One of the better matchups in week six will take place in Atlanta, where two teams that were not expected to contend in 2008 have surprising above .500 records in the 3-2 Bears and the 3-2 Falcons. The Falcons are coming off a surprising win in Green Bay last Sunday, while the Bears dominated from start to finish in a 34-7 mauling of the Lions in Detroit. Both teams have solid defenses, as well as young QB’s that are playing well.
Chicago has the 12th ranked offense in the league, led by QB Kyle Orton, who had his best game as a pro last Sunday in Motown. He has played well in spurts this year, throwing for 1100 yards, 7 TD’s and four picks. Versus the Lions, he threw for 334 yards and two scores without an intercpetion. He was able to find wide out WR’s, as well as TE Greg Olson. He is gaining confidence with each win. The Bears also have a solid rookie RB in Matt Forte, who leads all rookie backs with 383 yards. He will face a Falcons run defense that is allowing 125.8 yards per game.
The way to beat the Falcons at home is to get off to a fast start, and that will be up to Orton and the offense. Atlanta is allowing 21.4 points per game, as and 347.4 yards per game, so the Bears should be able to move on them. Orton will need to be mistake free, and not give the Falcons faithful reason to cheer with turnovers or quick 3-and-outs. Even some early field goals will get the Bears on the right track.
The Falcons do have a ways to go on the defensive side of the ball, but have gotten better, and with John Abraham making life tough for QB’s (7 sacks), he can get the crowd going with a few early plays. The Atlanta offense starts and ends with the success of bruiser Michael Turner, who has 543 yards and four scores. While the NFL world is falling in love with rookie QB Matt Ryan, it’s been the success of Turner that has put the Falcons on the above side of .500 five weeks in.
Ryan has been successful when he can go early to Turner, then keep the defense honest with good sound play action. He also likes to go deep, as he loves #1 WR Roddy White, who has 454 yards (90.8) and two scores. Michael Jenkins and Jerious Norwood out of the backfield are two other pass catchers who can make plays for Atlanta. Overall though, the Bears will be poised to stop Turner first, then try to tee off against Ryan.
The Bears boast a better D right now, and even playing on the road, they have to be considered the favorites to come out on top here. The Falcons have been a nice story, and they have a legit shot to win 7-8 games, but the Bears have opened some eyes and looked poised to be a team with a playoff run in them, which is why they will tough this one out on Sunday.