The 8-8 Chicago Bears snuck into the playoffs last weekend, setting up a Wild Card match-up with the New Orleans Saints. The Bears will enter the game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as the biggest underdogs of the weekend.
Unfortunately, their upset bid got a little bit more difficult after two key players were ruled out for Sunday’s contest.
Chicago downgraded wide receiver Darnell Mooney and linebacker Roquan Smith to out for the game against the Saints per The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain.
That means Matt Nagy will be without two key contributors, one on each side of the ball, in one of his biggest games as the team’s head coach.
The Bears downgraded Darnell Mooney and Roquan Smith to OUT for Sunday’s game.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) January 9, 2021
Mooney established himself as one of the Bears most reliable pass-catchers over the course of the year. He developed a clear connection with playoff starter Mitchell Trubisky, boding well for Chicago’s air attack. In his rookie season, just this year, Mooney caught 61 passes for 631 yards and four touchdowns. However, he sustained an ankle injury in the regular season finale and will now miss Sunday’s game.
Perhaps the bigger loss for the Bears rounding into the playoffs, will be Roquan Smith. The third-year linebacker helps anchor Chicago’s stout defense and did so again in 2020. The league named Smith a Second-Team All-Pro after his impressive year that saw him amass 98 tackles and 18 tackles-for-loss. The 23-year-old played last weekend against the Packers, but continues to labor with a nagging elbow injury.
New Orleans will feel even better about their chances after seeing the two Chicago players downgraded. Drew Brees still might be recovering from nearly a dozen broken ribs, but the 41-year-old veteran has extensive playoff experience. The Saints should be able to roll when the two teams meet in less than 24 hours.
The Bears vs. Saints game will kick-off at 4:40 p.m. ET in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday. The game will air on CBS, Nickelodeon and Amazon Prime Video.