Week 6 NFL Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons

Week 6 NFL Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons
The Bears and Falcons are currently 2-3, but both NFC teams are coming off giveaway losses. Who will come away with the win on Sunday?

The Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons will go head-to-head for the 26th time ever on Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome. The Bears hold a slight edge in the all time-series, leading 13-12.

Atlanta has won the last two meetings at the Georgia Dome coming in 2008 and 2009, but the Bears have won four of the last six matchups including a 30-12 rout in 2011’s season opener.

Matt Ryan v.s. Jay Cutler

Ryan – 3 starts: 65.5 completion percentage, 271 passing yards per game, 3 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 85.2 QB rating.

Cutler – 2 starts (with Bears): 65 completion percentage, 306 passing yards per game, 4 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 93.7 QB rating.

Both quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards in the 2011 meeting. Ryan has 26 career 300-yard games since entering the league in 2008 out of Boston College. He’s thrown three touchdowns in three games this season, which includes two 300-yard games and a ridiculous 448-yard output in Week 1 against New Orleans.

The Bears typically have a better chance of winning when Cutler doesn’t throw for over 300 yards, hence a 3-6 record with him under center since 2009. This season, in games where Cutler has thrown an interception the Bears are 0-3. On the flipside their 2-0 when he doesn’t.

The quarterback matchup is one to watch all afternoon long, but the wide receiver’s are bigtime as well. Julio Jones and Roddy White have combined for 56 catches for 765 receiving yards and five touchdowns for Atlanta, while Marshall and Jeffery have combined for 45 catches for 547 yards and seven touchdowns for the Bears.

Keep in mind tight end Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte have combined for 68 grabs, so the Bears are four deep in terms of legitimate targets for Cutler.

Both teams have the abilities to put up big offensive numbers at any point. The Falcons have been more consistent, while the Bears are looking for their identity. This should be an entertaining NFC clash.

What the Falcons are thinking

Atlanta is 38-10 at the Georgia Dome with Ryan at the helm. This season, the Falcons are 2-0 there. After back-to-back tough road losses this is a game where they want to get back on track.

Second-year corners Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford had 20 starts coming into this season, but the two high draft pricks will be tasked with keeping Marshall and Jeffery in check on Sunday.

The veteran leader on the Falcons’ offense Roddy White isn’t worried about the Bears’ receiver tandem.

“We can worry about them, but they’re not on the field when we’re on the field,” White said via ESPN. “We’ve got to go out there and execute, do our part, and help our team win on the offensive side of the ball. And just be more consistent.”

Devin Hester reunites with his “brothers” for this matchup after the Bears reportedly didn’t offer him a contract this off-season. He should be accounted for on offense and especially on special teams where he is still a factor, taking back a punt for a score already this season.

The Falcons will have to rely on their offense all season long, considering their defense just isn’t filled with enough pass rushers and playmakers to stop elite offenses. This is a big game for Atlanta, who travel to Baltimore and host Detroit before a Week 9 bye.

What the Bears are thinking

Second-half adjustments are the top thing on the Bears minds this week. They’ve been outscored 35-3 over the last two second-halfs against Green Bay and Carolina. The Bears also have a minus-five turnover ratio, which included three turnovers on the final three drives last week.

‘That’s everybody’s challenge each week, and we do it here,’’ coach Marc Trestman said in Thursday’s press conference. ‘‘We’ve got to take the lessons of the week before, get rest, then re-lock.’’

The Bears need to be patient in this one. The Falcons run defense has been an area of concern for them thus far this season.

Atlanta has allowed the fourth most rushing yards per game (147.6), including a whopping 241 to Minnesota two weeks ago. Bears’ starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod will be out for the second straight week with his knee and ankle issues, but center Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson is a week healthier.

Jared Allen will matchup against rookie left tackle Jake Matthews, while former Bear Gabe Carimi will draw the combo of Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Young leads the Bears with a career-high five sacks this season after posting just four sacks in four seasons.

The Bears are coming off consecutive losses much like the Falcons, so this game is just as important for the Bears as it is Atlanta. Trestman needs a better four-quarter game plan in this one because the Bears have yet to put together one in five games this season.

A look ahead

The Bears host Miami in Week 7 prior to traveling to New England before a Week 9 bye.

Read up on the five Bears players you should keep an eye on in Sunday’s matchuphere.

Injury Report

Bears – OUT: Jermon Bushrod (knee/ankle), Shea McClellin (hand), Lance Briggs (ribs), Ahmad Dixon (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Jon Bostic (back), Sherrick McManis (quad/knee); PROBABLE: Chris Conte (concussion), D.J. Williams (neck), Roberto Garza (ankle), Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion).

—The biggest news from the Bears’ injury report has to be Briggs being ruled out. The veteran linebacker has sore ribs and didn’t practice all week. Rookie Christian Jones is expected to start in his place at weakside. Bushrod and McClellin are out once again this week.

—Bostic and McManis are listed as questionable despite not practicing all week. Bostic is a game-time decision. If he can’t suit up, the Bears will be thin at linebacker, with the starters likely being D.J. Williams, Jones and/or Khaseem Greene or recently signed Darryl Sharpton. It’s not a good situation. If McManis can’t go which it appears that way, rookie Brock Vereen and Demontre Hurst will fill the void at slot cornerback.

—Lastly, Garza is set to start after missing the last four games and Ratliff is due back as well after missing the last three. Conte is on schedule to start after being cleared of his concussion, but the Bears will likely monitor his reps.

Falcons – OUT: Harry Douglas (back); QUESTIONABLE: Devin Hester (hamstring). Justin Blalock (back); PROBABLE: Kemal Ishmael (ankle), Julio Jones (ankle), Jake Matthews (ankle), Prince Shembo (knee).

—Douglas is out, so that means Hester will get the first crack at the No. 3 receiver spot despite being limited on Friday. He should be ready to go against his former team. Left guard Justin Blalock appears to be a game-time decision.

Final Score Prediction 

Bears 30, Falcons 27

Season predictions: (1-4).

Thoughts on this Bears-Falcons matchup on Sunday afternoon? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.


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