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Bronzed Babez Group

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Lucas Miller
Lucas Miller

[Game Chi N Thu T] ? Red Alert 3

This week, the Patriots will play the first of five primetime games on the schedule when they host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. The Patriots will have a stretch of four straight primetime games for the first time in team history later in the year. The stretch begins with a Thanksgiving Night game at Minnesota, followed by a Thursday Night game vs. Buffalo, and then a Monday Night Football game at Arizona followed by a Sunday Night contest at Las Vegas.

[Game Chi n Thu t] – Red Alert 3

Bill Belichick won his 324th overall game as a head coach last week at Cleveland to tie George Halas for second place all-time among all NFL coaches. He needs one more win to move past Halas into sole possession of second place, behind the 347 victories by Don Shula.

Former New England Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour was selected for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame the night before Super Bowl LVI and joined the Hall of Fame Class of 2022 at an induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, this past summer. Seymour will receive his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring at halftime of the Patriots game against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

This week's game will mark the 15th meeting overall between the Patriots and Bears (including Super Bowl XX). The Patriots have won the last five meetings including a 38-31 win at Chicago on Oct. 21, 2018 in the last meeting between the two teams. Chicago is 0-2 in their only two visits to Gillette Stadium, losing 17-13 in 2006 and 51-23 at Gillette Stadium in 2014.

One of the more memorable games between the two teams was in 2002, when the Bears played their home games at the University of Illinois during the remodeling of Soldier Field. New England staged one of the most memorable comebacks in team history, rallying from a 27-6 deficit late in the third quarter to pull out for a 33-30 win that was clinched on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to David Patten with 21 seconds left in the game.

Stop me if you've heard this before, especially recently: The Patriots will face a poor run defense this week. Chicago enters the Monday night game with the 29th-ranked rush defense, allowing 163 yards per game and 24th in yards per attempt (4.8). Coming off a rare subpar rushing performance in Cleveland, expect the attack to bounce back strong. Rhamondre Stevenson still managed to run for a pair of touchdowns, including a 31-yarder on a third-and-10 draw, but managed just 76 yards against the league's worst run defense. Overall the Patriots averaged only 3.4 yards per carry against the Browns, and that number is expected to rise going against a Bears front that includes Justin Jones and Angelo Blackson inside of Al-Quadin Muhammad and Robert Quinn. Roquan Smith is a standout middle linebacker but is a bit undersized and at times can be pushed around. That group has struggled to contain the run most of the year, although they have faced San Francisco, Green Bay and the Giants, who all have strong running games. Look for Stevenson to continue to carry the load as Damien Harris tries to work his way back from a sore hamstring. Rookies Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong filled in with four carries between them, but the running game will once again fall on Stevenson's shoulders.

Chicago hasn't done much right thus far in 2022 but one element of the team that has performed well is the secondary. The Bears are fourth in the league, allowing just 178.7 yards per game through the air, although the number rises to 11th at 6.5 yards per attempt, which is an indication that opponents have been largely willing to run the ball against Chicago's leaky front. Safety Eddie Jackson has played well, leading the team with three interceptions. But otherwise there aren't many household names in the secondary. Corners Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon join Jackson and fellow safety Jaquan Brisker in the starting lineup, although Johnson has dealt with a quad injury. Kindle Vildor serves as the nickel back, which the Bears use more than half the time. Quinn, the veteran pass rusher, hasn't posed much of the threat thus far with just one sack while the Bears have only 11 as a team. The Bears have been helped by the early-season schedule as they took on the Niners in a monsoon on opening day and Washington's Carson Wentz couldn't crack triple figures as he played with a fractured finger last week. Mac Jones is nearing a return and could be ready to go Monday night. He'll join an offense that has rookie Tyquan Thornton in the lineup and making plays. If Jones can't go, look for Bailey Zappe to continue to spread the ball around and remain efficient.

Chicago's offense hasn't produced much thus far but that has not been true of the ground game. Despite injuries to David Montgomery, the Bears have been effective grinding out yards on the ground. Chicago is second in the league, averaging 170.8 yards per game and seventh at 5.2 yards per carry. Montgomery averages 4 yards per carry as the lead back but Khalil Herbert offers more explosiveness and averages 6.4 yards on the same amount of attempts (Herbert has 63 to Montgomery's 62). Quarterback Justin Fields also offers a running element with 54 carries for 282 yards and a 5.2-yard average. Expect the Patriots to load the box and get extra bodies in the running lanes to effectively force Chicago to throw. New England overcame injuries to Lawrence Guy and Christian Barmore and came up with its strongest effort of the season in holding Cleveland's Nick Chubb to 56 yards on 12 carries. The Browns finished with only 70 rushing yards, which was more than 120 yards below their season average. Davon Godchaux and Carl Davis were stout up front and they will be tested once again on Monday. As long as the game remains competitive, the Bears will continue to run the football.

The reason that last sentence is true is that first-year coach Matt Eberflus has yet to figure out how to protect his young quarterback, and asking him to throw more than 25 passes, which he's done just once, is asking for trouble. While Fields has struggled mightily as the lowest-ranked passer in football, he's also been sacked 23 times. That total is astounding considering he's attempted only 115 passes. That means Fields is sacked a whopping 20 percent of the times he drops back to pass, a total which is far and away the worst in the league. Darnell Mooney is his favorite target, leading the Bears with 17 catches for 241 yards. Tight end Cole Kmet and Montgomery (10 apiece) are the only others with double digit receptions. Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis account for three of Fields' four touchdown passes for a passing attack that is far from dangerous. Expect the Patriots secondary to continue to lock down on the outside and force Fields to show that he can consistently complete passes to move the ball. Based on the results this far, which include a league-worst 122 yards per game through the air, Fields doesn't figure to be able to do that Monday night.

Nick Folk finally proved to be human when he misfired on a 45-yard field goal in Cleveland to snap his streak of 64 straight makes from inside 50 yards. Despite that hiccup he remains a huge strength for a Patriots offense that has had its struggles from inside the red zone. Chicago's Cairo Santos hasn't had many opportunities but he's been solid as well, making all seven of his field goals including three from beyond 50. Punter Trenton Gill has been effective with seven kicks downed inside the 20 against just two touchbacks while averaging almost 49 yards per punt. Jake Bailey has been a bit inconsistent but is coming off a game in which he pinned the Browns inside the 20 three times on his four attempts. The Patriots kickoff coverage continues to be a concern as Cleveland's Chester Rodgers brought three back to the 25 or beyond. But the Patriots also came up with another turnover on special teams, taking advantage of a muffed punt. Chicago's Velus Jones handles both punts and kicks, as Marcus Jones has done for New England. Marcus Jones has provided a lift, particularly on punts, and the Bears have been susceptible in that department in the early going, allowing almost 10 yards per return.

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by ESPN and can be seen locally on NBC Boston Channel 10. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analysts. Lisa Salters will provide analysis from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Phil Dean and directed by Jimmy Platt.

NATIONAL RADIO: Monday's game will be broadcast to a national audience on Westwood One Sports. Kevin Harlan will call the game with Kurt Warner providing analysis.

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 33 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

The National Football League (NFL) today announced there will be two 2023 International Games in Germany next season. The Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots will make their debuts in Germany as designated teams, following the inaugural international game in Munich in 2022.


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