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Bears-Saints matchup of the day: Saturday

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Sept. 17, 2011 @ 12:35 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

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

Bears RB Matt Forté vs. Saints' front seven

Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wants to create pressure and force QB Jay Cutler to make decisions under duress. To counter, the Bears are going to need RB Matt Forté and the running game to have success early and try to force the Saints to be less aggressive with the blitz.

Forté made the Falcons pay for their poor tackling in Week One, particularly on a screen pass that he turned into a 56-yard touchdown. He doesn't have the most pure speed, but Forté will not go down easily if New Orleans doesn't do a better job than Atlanta did of wrapping up. Controlling the pace of the game with Forté and the running game is arguably the biggest key to the game for the Bears. They have some speed on offense, too, but they don't want to turn this into a track meet. Controlling the clock will keep QB Drew Brees off the field.

To do so, the Bears' offensive line will have to get a push against the Saints' defensive line, which has struggled to be a consistent presence in the opposition's backfield. The DT trio of Sedrick Ellis, Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin is formidable and was expected to be very effective at clogging running lanes and letting MLB Jonathan Vilma get to the ball uninhibited, but they were pushed back on their heels far too often in the season opening loss to Green Bay.

The Saints will be without DE Will Smith, who is completing his two-game suspension and the New Orleans run "D" will also miss SS Roman Harper (questionable, knee) if he's unable to play.

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