Smith's focus is on the Saints

January, 5, 2011

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Lovie Smith's primary focus during the bye week: the New Orleans Saints.

[+] EnlargeSean Peyton
AP Photo/Margaret BowlesSaints coach Sean Peyton hasn't fared well against the Bears.
Because the Bears already faced the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles in the regular season -- and there is no chance they will play the sixth-seeded Green Bay Packers -- the bulk of the scouting work is centered on the defending Super Bowl champions.

"We do, and that's what we've done [focused more on New Orleans]," Smith said. "At the same time, we have a history with the Saints. Their coaching staff has been in place, so it's not like anyone is a big surprise to us right now. We'll look at everyone, but spend a little more time on the Saints."

Smith is a perfect 4-0 lifetime versus New Orleans.

The Bears collected regular-season victories over the Saints in 2005 (20-17), 2007 (33-25) and 2008 (27-24), while also beating Sean Payton's team in the NFC Championship game (39-14) during the memorable 2006 campaign.

Needless to say, the teams are very familiar with one another.

"When a staff has been there that long, yes, there are some tendencies," Smith said. "The Saints have a system, they'll change up some different things, but not a lot. Just like we have a system in place, we're not really going to go far from it. Most of the time, these types of games are decided by other things in the playoffs. Turnover ratio, we talk about that, it's going to come down to something as simple as that. Who tackles the best, which team protects the football and which team takes the ball away the most."

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.



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