And so we encounter the first week of the 2011 NFL season. The Chicago Bears are good. I'll stick with that. And I won't be shy in picking them at home in week one.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- I like the incorporation of the quick toss, screen and draw play as offensive means for compensating for struggles by the edge blockers. (These struggles will be more prevalent early on.) I thought it was the most clearly decipherable elements of this preseason. Aside from shifting the players up front, I think the Bears are using the playbook to keep Jay upright.
- The Bears have significant advantages with the kicker, punter and punt return game. I used to underestimate this. I don't anymore.
- But I'll refrain from commenting on the kickoff return game until I see how this new rule impacts play.
- I think the Bears will shut down the Falcons run game but struggle on third and mid-range plays (3rd and 7, 3rd and 8...etc.). Falcons have big, physical receivers who'll slide neatly into the holes in the zone and move the chains. The trick for the Bears will be turning Matt Ryan over a couple times and limiting the length of the drives.
- I think the Bears will run right at Abraham and Edwards and have much success.
- I think Jay Cutler has a great deal to prove in 2011 and is on the war path to prove it. He's in shape. His footwork is improved. His leadership is more visible. I think you won't see Jay Cutler throw ballgames away in 2011.
- What else do you say for the first week of the season? The Bears will focus on blocking the edges and are ready to compensate for failure in that department. The Bears defense will have their hands full but will take the run game away, making the Falcons one-dimensional. They win.
Chicago Bears 24, Atlanta Falcons 20
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