Both the Atlanta Falcons and the Chicago Bears had their 2010 seasons ended by the Green Bay Packers, but what they each did afterwards was very, very different.
Atlanta traded up for Julio Jones, picked up Ray Edwards, and also picked up some possible starting defensive backs. Chicago, it seemed, did the exact opposite. They didn’t address their offensive line needs, released their Pro Bowl center, and released their 2007 first round draft pick Greg Olsen.
Matt Forte expressed dissatisfaction with his contract last month, and now Lance Briggs is now disgruntled about his contract situation even to the point of formally asking for a trade (though Jerry Angelo said the Bears are not shopping the linebacker) Both players will be suiting up this Sunday though, but will their state of mind be a distraction on the field?
Most likely not. Forte will, though, have more pressure on him to play well Sunday because back-up running back, Marian Barber, may be sitting due to a calf injury.
Chicago’s strong-suit is going to have to be their defense. That’s no surprise. They still have one of the best linebackers in Brian Urlacher, and their defensive line should be about the same, anchored by Irseal Idonije and Julius Peppers.
What scares me, and has always scared me, is the Bears’ pass defense. Not much has changed except for the experience the defensive backs have compared to what they had last season. One thing has proven true the pas few years: if you’re going to beat the Bears, you have to perform well in the passing game.
The Falcons have the ability to do that Sunday.
Matt Ryan now has rookie receiver Julio Jones to go along with Roddy White, improving Atlanta’s passing game enough to take the workload off of running back Michael Turner. Ryan, White, and Jones all stand as a huge threat to the Bears’ defense. Charles Tillman will most likely be set to cover White, but other than that, the Bears have no truly effective cornerback that can cover Jones.
Matt Forte is the only player on the offensive side of the ball who has a consistent impact for the Bears. Atlanta allowed, on average, 105.9 rushing yards per game. That’s nothing to be too proud of and definitely something the Bears can take advantage of and use to their advantage.
Everyone knows the Bears’ problem on offense is their offensive line and their lack of a true number one receiver. I am not convinced (and neither is anyone else) that the Bears have significantly improved at either of these positions, enough to consider them an offensive threat, which is sad because I truly believe, with a above average O-line and someone to throw to, Jay Cutler could flourish as a Bear.
But Atlanta has added some skill to the defensive line, signing Ray Edwards to help out John Abraham rush the passer. Against Chicago’s poor O-line, I expect the Falcons to get to Cutler and cause a few mistakes.
- Bears-Falcons Prediction: Falcons 24 Bears 17
- Bears-Falcons Spread Pick: Falcons -3
- Bears-Falcons Over-Under: Push
Bears-Falcons Game Info
- Falcons-Bears Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on FOX
- Falcons-Bears Point Spread: Falcons -3
- Falcons-Bears Over-Under Odds: 41
- Falcons-Bears Announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa