The Chicago Bears (3-7) will face the Atlanta Falcons (4-6) on the road at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and it will be a bit of a homecoming. Quarterback Justin Fields is returning home to Georgia, and the Bears are playing a Falcons team full of former teammates.
Atlanta is one of the NFL’s worst defenses and passing offenses. Despite former Bears GM Ryan Pace’s efforts to rebuild his old Chicago team in Atlanta, he’s been unable to bring the magic of the Bears’ 2018 season to the Falcons.
Chicago has a great chance of beating the Falcons, their old teammates, and their former general manager. Here are three reasons to be optimistic heading into Sunday’s game.
Atlanta's weak defensive front
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The Falcons are the worst team at generating pressure in the NFL and have the second-fewest sacks this season. However, Atlanta fails to control the line of scrimmage, allowing 4.4 yards per rush, and has only recorded 36 tackles for loss (ranked 24th), so the Bears should be able to run the ball effectively, and Justin Fields shouldn’t take too many hits.
At quarterback, Fields shouldn’t experience too many blitzes. The Falcons’ defense ranks 29th when it comes to blitzing. Some teams generate pressure without blitzing, like the New York Jets, who rank 31st in blitzing but fourth in pressure rate.
However, Atlanta cannot generate pressure with its front seven either by blitzing or with standard pressure is an excellent sign for the Bears and explains why Atlanta ranks third in points allowed.
The Falcons' weak secondary and pass defense
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It has been a tough year for the Atlanta secondary. The defense lost 11-year cornerback Casey Hayward to injured reserve with a shoulder injury, and rising star cornerback A.J. Terrell has been injured since week 7 with a hamstring injury.
The Falcons are hoping Terrell will return on Sunday, but one player won’t make much of a difference for a secondary that allows the 3rd most passing yards per attempt.
Justin Fields has only thrown for more than 200 yards once this season. But, on Sunday, in his home state of Georgia, he will have an excellent opportunity to pass for his second 200-yard game of the season.
The Falcons have one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL
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Eight-year veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota is running the 29th-ranked passing offense. The Bears have only faced one offense worse than Atlanta’s, and that was the New York Giants.
In that game, the Bears held Daniel Jones to a 56% completion percentage for 82 yards and an interception. The Giants only picked up 35% of their first downs by throwing the ball.
After struggling to stop the pass for the last three weeks, it will be a nice break for the Bears struggling defense to face the Falcons.