The Chicago Bears travel south to take on the Atlanta Falcons for their Week 11 matchup. The Bears (3-7) are looking to snap a three-game losing streak despite scoring more than 29 points in each of their losses. The Falcons (4-6) are also riding a losing streak, but are still within striking distance of the division lead and look to get back on track.
Both teams have similar tendencies this season, given they have an excellent running game, so-so defense, and an ability to fall apart in the fourth quarter. But this game will be a reunion for many involved, considering former Bears players, coaches, and front office personnel are with the Falcons and will be facing their former team for the first time. Perhaps they’ll be treated to another dazzling show from Justin Fields, who continues to set the league on fire with his historic performances. Is another one on the table when he returns to his home state for the first time as a pro? Here are our bold predictions ahead of Bears vs. Falcons.
1. Justin Fields rushes for 100 yards once again
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 13: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on November 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Fields cannot be stopped on the ground. It’s been apparent for the better part of the season now and even though teams know it’s coming, they can’t do anything about it. Fields has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in the last two games and there’s no reason to think he stops now. The Falcons have a middling run defense as they allow 116 yards per game on the ground. But they’re fresh off letting Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman gash them for 130 yards in their most recent game.
The Bears won’t have Khalil Herbert as he’s on injured reserve, meaning more designed runs could be called for Fields. When that happens, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can stop him. He gets his third 100-yard rushing game in a row.
2. Fields throws for 2+ touchdowns
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 13: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears attempts a pass during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on November 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
The Falcons may be mediocre against the run, but they’re downright dreadful against the pass. Atlanta is last in the league in passing yards allowed per game with 280.1. Star players like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have had success against them, but even players like P.J. Walker and Jimmy Garoppolo lit up the scoreboard as well.
Fields may be tearing it up with his running, but his passing game as quietly improved week by week. He’s thrown two or more touchdowns in each of his last three games. Outside of safety Richie Grant, the Falcons secondary doesn’t scare anyone. Fields will find a way to toss at least two more touchdowns.
3. Velus Jones plays this week
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 09: Velus Jones Jr. #12 of the Chicago Bears rushes for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
When it was announced the Bears would be without Herbert for at least the next four games, questions arose about who might be able to fill his role besides Trestan Ebner. A few people mentioned the possibility that Velus Jones could be in line for a return to the lineup, even as a running back. At first, the idea seemed like a longshot but after pondering it for a day or so, it may not be that crazy after all.
Jones has been in the proverbial dog house the last couple of weeks as a healthy scratch. He’s fallen behind other receivers and has struggled in the passing game when given opportunities. He has elite speed though and many believed he could be a hybrid player who could line up in the backfield as a runner. The Bears need to see what they have in him and this feels like an opportunity for that. They’ll ride with David Montgomery and Ebner but don’t be shocked if Jones gets a few touches as well.
4. Kyle Pitts has his breakout game of the season
Nov 6, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) prepares for a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Sadly, not all bold predictions are in favor of the Bears. One of the most puzzling storylines this year in the NFL has been Atlanta’s inability to maximize the talents of tight end Kyle Pitts. The second-year playmaker has taken a step back in the Falcon offense, totaling just 25 catches for 313 yards and two scores. Pitts is arguably Atlanta’s best player, but he’s just not being utilized in the offense. That’s changing this week and the Bears are unfortunately the team it’s happening against.
The Falcons are coming off a mini bye week and like the Bears, their actual bye isn’t until mid December. They haven’t had an extended period of time to retool or look at their offense to make changes. Now that they have, expect them to feed Pitts more than usual. He has yet to eclipse 100 yards in a game this season, but the Bears secondary has been struggling to stop opposing pass catchers as of late. The conditions are right for Pitts’ breakout.
5. Marcus Mariota gets sacked 3 times
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 13: Justin Jones #93 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a missed field goal by Washington Commanders during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field on October 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
The Bears defense has struggled mightily when it comes to rushing the passer this season, but they’re going against a Falcons offensive line that is allowing an average of three sacks a game over the last three weeks. Certain players have also started to stand out in that department, such as defensive tackle Justin Jones with two tackles for loss and a QB hit, and linebacker Jack Sanborn with two sacks and two QB hits against the Lions.
Facing a banged-up Falcons line, the defense finds a way to get to quarterback Marcus Mariota at least a few times. The Falcons signal caller does have wheels to get outside, but the Bears should be prepared for that given their experience facing Fields in practice. It will be an improved day for the front seven on Sunday.