3 key matchups to watch as the Bears battle the Falcons in Week 11

At 3-7, the Chicago Bears are waning fast. While the season isn’t gone without a trace, it is getting lost in the fog. But it’s made easier by the fact that quarterback Justin Fields has emerged as one of the NFL’s most electrifying players.

With the Atlanta Falcons next on the schedule, Chicago has a chance to keep their slim playoff hopes alive (or inch closer to a top-five draft pick).

Here are three key matchups the Bears must take advantage of against the Falcons.

Bears passing game vs. Falcons secondary

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The Bears offense has been electrifying over the last month. Keep in mind, though, it’s largely run through the legs of Justin Fields rather than his arm. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing- it’s good to see Chicago letting Fields be great. It would be nice, though, to see Fields air it out against Atlanta. The Falcons have the worst pass defense in the league, and the Bears have a good combination of speed with Darnell Mooney, and size on the inside with Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet. Fields will make plays with his legs, but let’s see if Luke Getsy lets him air out a few deep balls and throw more than we have been accustomed to. 

Bears run game vs. Falcons run defense

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In case you haven’t heard, the Bears are having a historic year on the ground. They are averaging over 200 yards rushing per game, and Fields has the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a five game span in NFL history. We touched on Atlanta’s defensive struggles in the passing game, but their rush defense is more of a middle-of-the-pack unit, allowing just over 119 yards per game. If Chicago gets a balanced attack going through the air and on the ground, expect a lot of points.

Falcons run game vs. Bears run defense

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The other side of this coin is that the Falcons run the ball well, and the Bears are near the bottom of the league defending the run. The Falcons are fourth in the NFL with 160.4 rushing yards per game, while Chicago is allowing 142 yards per game on the ground. The Falcons, really, are a poor man’s Chicago Bears. They have a mobile quarterback and run their offense through the run game. The Bears will need to find a way to at least contain the run and make Marcus Mariota throw the ball.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire