Friday, October 16, 2009

A prime time for some payback

3-1 vs. 3-1. The Bears have 105 points on the year, the Falcons 102. Both teams are 2-0 at home and 1-1 on the road. Michael Turner is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, Matt Forte 3.7. Do you think it's fair to say that Sunday's Bears-Falcons match-up will be a battle of evenly matched teams?

And because they're so evenly matched, the game gives the Bears a chance to show a prime time audience what they're truly made of. As a Bears fan, 3-1 sounds and feels great. But there's no question there are still some question marks surrounding this team. Two of their wins could have been losses were it not for inaccurate field goal attempts. And just as I still have reservations about the Vikings due to the fact that they've beaten the Lions, Browns and Rams for three of their five victories, the Bears' most recent victory over the Lions isn't exactly proof positive that they're on a direct path to the Super Bowl.

But with road games against the Falcons and the surprising Bengals on tap, we'll know a lot more about the Bears nine days from now. Lovie Smith has had nearly two weeks to prepare for this revenge game, and he should be able to add Pisa Tinoisamoa back into the mix--Hunter Hillenmeyer and Adrian Peterson are still doubtful.

Keys to the Game

Roddy White. The 5th year receiver didn't do much in the first three games, but his 210-yard explosion last week has him ranked 8th in the league with 82 receiving yards per game. Plus, he burned the Bears for 112 yards in last year's last-second stunner. It could be a long day for the Bears secondary if they allow White and Matt Ryan to get into a groove.

The middle of the field. Atlanta has allowed just three receiving touchdowns on the year, the Bears just four. With each team's secondary playing well, both Ryan and Cutler may find themselves looking for their tight ends. Former Chief Tony Gonzalez is playing well in Atlanta while Greg Olsen has yet to eclipse 100 total receiving yards on the season. The Bears need to keep Gonzalez in check and can expand Cutler's arsenal if they can get Olsen going.

Keep the running game going. Forte finally broke through two weeks ago against the Lions with 121 yards rushing. And while I sound like a broken record talking about the importance of the ground game, Atlanta ranks in the bottom third in run defense for the third consecutive season; the Bears need to take advantage of this weakness.

A quick start. The Bears have been outscored 34-7 in the first quarter this year. They've been able to come back and win three times, but that task would be significantly tougher against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. It's going to be important to be in it from the start on Sunday night (btw: how weird is it that the Bears have played only one noon game this year, and play another 3:15 game next week?).

Where'd he come from?

QB Matt Ryan, Boston College
RB Michael Turner, Northern Illinois
WR Roddy White, UAB
TE Tony Gonzalez, Cal

1 comment:

  1. Here's hoping they play better in prime time than they have in the past. Go Bears!