Several months of nothing. Not a significant word spoken about the NFL in any sports media circle that did not involve the tedium of labor negotiations. Now we have arrived. Finally. To the first week of the NFL season. The Bears have an opponent. And they're good.
- On the offense, the Bears need to block the edges. John Abraham has resurrected his career in Atlanta and the Falcons wisely went out this offseason and added Ray Edwards at a hefty price tag. I don't think Edwards is an elite rusher but he doesn't have to be when teams are so focused on stopping Abraham.
- If you block those edge guys, there are plays to be made all over the field. The Falcons are not overly impressive at linebacker and their corner combo of Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes is talented but often take too many chances on the ball. If the Bears use three and four-receiver sets, they should have a lot of success quick tossing into the slot.
- The Falcons have a rookie punter and Matt Bryant kicking field goals. I don't trust either.
- The Falcons have Eric Weems returning kicks. I don't fear him.
- The Falcons offense? I fear.
- By the end of the year, hell maybe sooner, we're going to be talking about Roddy White and Julio Jones as the best pair of WRs in the league. Both of these guys are capable of taking a five-yard slant to the house.
- Michael Turner is the kind of workhouse back that gets better as the game goes on. In the past we've seen the Bears rush defense wear down in the fourth quarter if the offense doesn't keep the ball for extended periods. This is the key to this game.
- Tony Gonzalez will get his. Good tight ends always do against the Bears.
- Matt Ryan can't have a bad season and he knows that. There might not be a QB with more pressure squarely on his shoulders in the conference. And outside of Flacco, the whole the league.
Overall I put the Falcons in the conversation as Super Bowl contenders. Without reservation. But who knows how far either of these teams will be along in Week One.
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