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Week 8 Patriots vs Bears: 5 Points for the Game

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The Patriots look to extend their winning streak to four games against a Bears team in flux. How can New England pull out a victory?

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears have the most ridiculous offensive personnel, possibly in the entire league. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combine for a league leading 3,579 receiving yards since the start of the 2013 season, while tight end Martellus Bennett is on pace to set career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Add in that Matt Forte leads the league in receptions (52) as a running back and ranks third in the league in yards from scrimmage on the year and the most in the league since the start of 2013.

This is an explosive team with explosive weapons that can break through for a huge play at any given moment. The Patriots need to stop them.

Here's how.

1) Monitor the big plays. You might be surprised that for all of the depth on the Bears offense, they tie for 29th with the fewest plays for 20+ years with just 19. For the Patriots defense, who rank 4th in the league for fewest 20+ yard plays allowed (20), this should be an ideal match-up on playing aggressive and stopping the big play. On the other side, the Bears rank 27th in allowing 20+ yard plays (30), so the Patriots should feel comfortable taking a few deep shots throughout the day, if only to keep the defense honest.

2) Stop Forte. Consider him their Jamaal Charles. Or Marshall Faulk. Or whatever, he is the engine of the offense and if the same Patriots defense that couldn't make a single tackle against the Jets comes to play, then the Bears star running back will be all over the field. It comes to fundamentals, but the Patriots need to take him down on the first tackle attempt every single time. Expect Jamie Collins to follow him around the field.

3) Win the turnover batttle. This seems fairly simple- and it is. The Patriots are tied for 5th best in the league with only 5 turnovers on the season. The Bears are tied for 23rd worst with 13. The Patriots are 5-0 when they don't turn the ball over and 0-2 when they do. The Bears are 3-0 when quarterback Jay Cutler doesn't throw an interception. They're 0-4 when he does. The Patriots need to force turnovers.

4) Disciplined play. The Patriots are the worst in the league in penalties. Their average of 9 flags per game is deplorable and their 84.3 penalty yards per game is nearly 11 yards worse than the closest team. Both are ranked 32nd in the league. For a team that prides itself on clean and disciplined play, this year has been terrible for penalties. And it's not just due to the new rules- the team has 13 false start penalties and 11 offensive holding calls. When penalties are worth roughly one expected point every drive, the Patriots are hemorrhaging points they can't afford. That said, they do need to adjust to the new defensive rules as their 9 defensive holding calls are worst in the league.

5) Unleash Rob Gronkowski. The Bears rank 30th versus tight ends per DVOA. They're playing back-up linebackers. They have a dinged up secondary. Their pass rush is inconsistent. If the Patriots can open up the play action pass with the running game, look for Tom Brady to uncork some fantastic throws up the seam to Gronkowski. The Patriots should look to go vertical on this Bears defense.