The Chicago Bears (3-7) and Justin Fields head to Atlanta in Week 11 to take on the Falcons (4-6). It’s a homecoming for the second-year quarterback and Georgia native and a reunion for some Bears players who will see many familiar faces.
Former Bears GM Ryan Pace, now the senior personnel executive of the Falcons, has rebuilt Atlanta’s roster with many former Bears players. While there might be smiles and reminiscing going on post-game, Chicago desperately needs a win.
Despite averaging 31.0 points per game (best in the NFL) in the last four weeks, the Bears defense has surrendered 32.3 per game (worst in the NFL), resulting in Chicago losing three of their previous four games.
The Falcons defense is one of the worst in the NFL. Opponents score on nearly 45% of their drives against Atlanta, which ranks second best. Chicago should light up the scoreboard again in Week 11.
Here are three things the offense needs to do to win on the road.
Take advantage of Atlanta's weak secondary
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The Falcons have been without star cornerback A.J. Terrell since Week 7. While Terrell might return this week, the Falcons’ pass defense is still one of the worst in the NFL. On the other hand, Chicago has done a great job running the ball, whether it is Justin Fields, Khalil Herbert, or David Montgomery.
But this week, Chicago has to establish itself as a passing offense. Fields has another excellent opportunity to pass for 200-plus yards against Atlanta’s defense.
The Falcons have allowed the most passing yards this season (280.1 per game), and quarterbacks are averaging the second-best completion percentage at 68.6% against this defense.
Atlanta is allowing the most air yards and the fourth most yards after the catch, so the Chicago wide receivers should have a great day.
Keep Justin Fields upright
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The Falcons’ defense fails to generate pressure on the quarterback. Atlanta’s defense has the worst pressure rate and the second-fewest sacks this season. While the Bears have been terrible at protecting Fields, this matchup could result in a zero-sack game for the second-year quarterback.
Fields hasn’t had a zero-sack game since Week 1 of the 2021 season, and this year, he’s been sacked nearly four times per game. Only Grady Jarrett (4.5) and Lorenzo Carter (2.5) have more than two sacks on the Falcons. Atlanta’s defense hasn’t registered more than one sack since week 7, so
It’s time for Fields and this offensive line to turn in a clean sheet and allow zero sacks.
Win the fourth quarter
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The Bears have struggled to play well in the fourth quarter of games. When throwing the ball, Fields only averages 4.8 yards per attempt for a passer rating of 64.6 (worst in the NFL) and has thrown 3-of-7 total interceptions in the final quarter.
It will be challenging for Chicago because the Falcons play their best football in the second half. Quarterbacks in the second half complete 8% less of their passes and have a 23.5-point drop in their passer rating. Against the run, Atlanta only allows 3.9 yards per rush and three fewer touchdowns.
After last week’s second-half collapse vs. Detroit, the Bears have to start winning the fourth quarter and closing out games.