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Bears-Saints matchup of the day: Friday

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Sept. 16, 2011 @ 4:01 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week Two game between the Bears and Saints.

Saints' RBs vs. Bears' run defense

One of the Saints' top priorities in the offseason was retooling the RB corps in an effort to help the re-establish balance on offense. It didn't get off to a great start against Green Bay, as the team averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and was shut down at the goal line to end the game. Yet New Orleans could feature its backs more prominently this week against the Bears with some injuries at wide receiver. Marques Colston (broken collarbone) will not play, and Lance Moore (groin) is not a lock to suit up.

New Orleans' top backs, Pierre Thomas and rookie Mark Ingram, are solid all-around players and will fight for tough yardage. The change-of-pace back, Darren Sproles, is a diminutive, speedy threat and he led the Saints with seven catches for 75 yards in Week One against the Packers.

Chicago's run defense wasn't truly tested in Week One — the Falcons' offense was pass-heavy after falling way behind against the Bears in the opener. Michael Turner did have some success rushing that afternoon (10 carries for 100 yards, including a 53-yard rush), but New Orleans is going to have to do a better job in the trenches and get to the second level against LBs Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs to get more movement up front.

If the Saints establish the running game vs. Chicago and the Bears counter by putting a safety in the box, QB Drew Brees will go to work, and things could open up for the passing game. Allowing the Saints to establish that sought-after balance would make it a very long afternoon for Lovie Smith's defense.

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