Oct 5, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) runs as tight end Martellus Bennett (83) is in the foreground and Carolina Panthers free safety Thomas DeCoud (21) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Week 6. It’s the Chicago Bears vs Atlanta Falcons in a crucial NFC showdown. The Bears head down to the Georgia Dome to face the Falcons and a lot of familiar faces on Sunday. It’s a matchup of 2-3 NFC wannabe contenders who are eerily similar. Both have suffered injuries in the trenches, both have a myriad of offensive weapons and both have failed to live up to lofty expectations. This becomes a critical showdown for both team, with the loser in a deep 2-4 hole and losing a key tie-breaker. Let’s see how the teams match up.
When the Bears Have the Ball
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The Bears 17th ranked offense overall, gaining 348.6 yards per game goes up against a Falcons defense that allows 407.2 yards per game, a pathetic 29th in the league. The Bears are only averaging 16.2 points per game, 16th in the league. That’s a big step back for the unit that returned all 11 starters, although the Bears have suffered through some bumps and bruises on the offensive line since Week 1. The Falcons scoring defense allows 28.6 points per game, so if the Bears are going to crack the 30-yard mark, this should be the week.
Bears Rushing Offense (22nd) vs Falcons Rush Defense (28th)
The Bears rushing attack seemed to get back on track against the Packers a couple of weeks ago, but Matt Forte’s rushing effort was mostly stuck in the mud last week against the Carolina Panthers. Perhaps Luke Kuechly had something to do with that. Their 28th ranked rushing defense lacks a dynamic playmaker of that caliber to roam sideline to sideline especially since Sean Weatherspoon suffered a torn Achilles. The Falcons give up an average of 147.6 yards per game, so if the Bears are willing to commit to the run, Forte will have his chances.
Bears Passing Offense (14th) vs Falcons Pass Defense (24th)
Sep 28, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) reacts with wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) after scoring a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears passing offense has to be the biggest disappointment of the season. There were such high hopes for Cutler, Marshall and Jeffery to fly even higher in Year 2 under Marc Trestman, but it seems like they are suffering a sophomore slump instead. Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman have been in a play calling funk the last couple of weeks, particularly in the second half of the last couple of games. There is something funny going on between Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler. Hopefully they can get on the same page on Sunday.
The Falcons struggle to get pressure on the quarterback, with only 4 sacks on the season, so Cutler should have a clean pocket to work in. If he can take care of the ball (I know, it’s a big IF!), the Bears should be able to move the ball through the air against a porous Falcons secondary.