I don’t have a good feeling about Sunday night. Not that I think the Bears will embarrass themselves, I just think all signs point to them leaving the ATL with an “L”. Most of my consternation with the game surrounds the Falcons offense against the Bears D.
Chicago hasn’t played an offense as balanced as the one they’ll see in the Georgia Dome. Matt Ryan is one of the league’s smartest young QBs. Michael Turner is a grinder, and he had his first 100-yard day against the solid 49ers D. Atlanta’s complimentary back Jerrious Norwood is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. Roddy White is a legitimate top 5 WR and could create problems for Tillman and Bowman. Watch how/if the Bears mix coverages with linebackers/safeties/cornerbacks to account for future HOF tight end Tony Gonzalez.
But maybe I’m over-exaggerating the Falcons’ offensive awesomeness. Let’s see how the Bears offense matches up against the Falcons no-name D…
Atlanta is allowing its opponents 127 yards a game on the ground. So at first glance, you’d think the Bears will be able to move the ball. But I thought the same thing against the banged-up Seahawks in week 3 and that didn’t work out so well. The Bears had a bundle of false starts vs. Seattle, and the environment in the Georgia Dome won’t be a picnic for our O-line either. If the Bears repeatedly put themselves in long yardage situations due to false starts, that will mitigate the running game and allow the Falcons John Abraham to pin his ears back and get after Cutler. I think the “O” will need an explosive play or two (Cutler to Hester deep, anyone?) to stay in the game.
The Bears special teams unit usually holds a distinct edge against their opponent, but this week could be a wash. The Falcons’ Jason Elam has been kicking balls through uprights for what seems like decades. Norwood is a dangerous return man who burned the Bears with an 85-yard return last year. The Falcons have the number #1 kickoff coverage team while the Bears feature the #1 kick return team. Which unit will give?
Falcons – 26, Bears – 17