The 2-0 Chicago Bears take on the 0-2 Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Atlanta. Yet, the Falcons are the favorite, according to the Vegas sportsbooks. This isn’t the type of winless team that presents an easy win for the Bears.
Here’s what you need to know about the Bears’ Week 3 matchup.
Can the Bears keep the Falcons offense off the field?
The most effective way to stop Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan from hurting a defense is to keep Matt Ryan on the bench. The Bears need to sustain drives. They’ve done that this season by lining up Mitch Trubisky under center and giving defenses a heavy dose of David Montgomery.
The Bears should have the ability to do so against a banged up Falcons defense. Expect to see them establishing the run early in this contest.
Does Julio Jones play?
The Falcons top receiver has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and coach Dan Quinn said Friday that Jones would be a game-time decision.
This could just be gamesmanship from Quinn, not wanting to let the Bears know anything. Or there could be a chance Jones plays. The fact is, Jones sitting out practice this week is a bad sign for the Falcons and a good sign for the Bears.
Calvin Ridley vs. Bears secondary
Receiver Calvin Ridley is thriving in Atlanta. Ridley, the brother of Bears receiver Riley Ridley, is tied for the NFL lead in receiving yards through two weeks. He’s been Ryan’s top target, and should be again if Jones is out.
This will be the toughest test yet for the Bears secondary, which avoided Detroit’s Kenny Golladay in the season opener. Bears safety Eddie Jackson played college ball with Calvin Ridley at Alabama. They were drafted a year apart.
Jackson called Calvin Ridley a “close friend” this week.
“He’s elusive,” Jackson said. “His route-running ability is great. He’s fast. He’s quick in and out of his breaks. We’ve just got to stay on top of them and I feel like we’ve got to put our hands on them, get them at the line.”
Can the Bears pressure Matt Ryan?
The Bears pass rush was lackluster against the Detroit Lions in Week 1, then found some success against the New York Giants in Week 2.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Falcons are a middle of the road team in terms of QB protection. Ryan has been pressured on 21.6% of his dropbacks this season, which ranks 16th in the NFL. The Falcons are better than the Giants in that category, but not as good as the Lions, who rank 11th.
This game could come down to whether the Bears’ big fellas up front can pressure Ryan, and whether defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano can bring pressure at the right time.
Is Allen Robinson due for a breakout performance?
Bears receiver Allen Robinson has yet to put up eye-popping numbers, even as he lobbies for a new contract. He all but disappeared for stretches of last week’s win over the New York Giants.
Obviously, defenses are focusing in on him. That’s what led to big days for Anthony Miller in Week 1 and Darnell Mooney in Week 2. Robinson is poised for a breakout game, the question is when?
“We’ve got to make more tough catches, got to run crisper routes,” Robinson said. “But we’ve been able to establish the run, so we’re just trying to play off that, trying to execute a little better on third down and in the red zone.”
Bears at Falcons
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