But while the Saints have a considerable edge on paper, they also held those same advantages when the Bears nearly upset them in Week 8. With Chicago improved on offense since reinstalling Mitch Trubisky under center, New Orleans cannot rely on the talent disparity alone to advance to the divisional round.
Saints final injury report
Out: G Nick Easton (concussion), DE Trey Hendrickson (neck)
Notable players on in-week report who were removed from final: QB Taysom Hill (concussion), TE Josh Hill (hand), S J.T. Gray (shoulder), S Marcus Williams (ankle)
How injuries may affect Bears vs. Saints matchup
The most important names aren’t on the report. Michael Thomas is expected to be activated off injured reserve and Alvin Kamara is expected to be activated off the COVID-19 IR list. Until they come off those injury lists, they remain off the final injury report. But both are expected back for the Wild Card round.
While the Saints have lean on Nick Easton as a starting interior offensive lineman for most of the season, they have a more-than-capable backup plan in first-round rookie Cesar Ruiz. Ruiz has already notched nine starts this season and figures to take over at guard or center in a full-time capacity next season.
Conversely, the Saints can expect to have a harder to accounting for defensive end Trey Hendrickson’s absence. A full-time starter for the first time in his career, Hendrickson led the team in sacks (13.5) and finished second in pressures (49). Former first-round selection Marcus Davenport should see an uptick in work as a result, but he hasn’t demonstrated Hendrickson’s level of play for more than a few isolated games in his three-year career.