This Sunday, the 2-0 Chicago Bears travel south to Atlanta to take on the 0-2 Falcons. The Bears, led by third-year head coach Matt Nagy, have grinded their way to two early victories. The Falcons, led by sixth-year head coach Dan Quinn, have suffered two devastating losses at the hands of Seattle and Dallas. Both teams enter Sunday looking to prove something to the rest of the league.
A team with a ton to prove, the Falcons have an explosive, air-raid style offense led by former MVP quarterback Matt Ryan. They also sport a three-headed monster of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Todd Gurley, all of whom can carry an offense on any given day.
The Bears' offense, led by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, has seen their own level of success. A balanced attack of run/pass has the team trending in the right direction, specifically in the run game. David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and Cordarrelle Patterson have combined to become a consistent attack out of the backfield, a group that ranks ninth in the NFL in rushing yards.
Per Game Stats (Offense)
While Atlanta's offense has kept points on the board, their defense is another story altogether. A squad that could be referred to as an island of misfit toys, the Falcons have yet to find their identity on defense. Stars such as linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal have struggled to cover up the lack of depth in Atlanta's secondary.
Meanwhile, the Bears once again rank near the top of the league in team defense, receiving strong performances from their secondary and pass rush alike. Chicago currently sits third in points allowed across the league.
Per Game Stats (Defense)
As always, I am once again joined by fellow Bears On Tap contributors Kevin Gora and Aalap Desai to give our X-Factors of the week.
Duke: QB Mitchell Trubisky
"I'm going to keep it as simple as I can: It's time for Mitch to put his meat on the table. Trubisky has shown flashes of brilliance early on this season, but he still leaves you wanting more. He's been criticized for 'not putting four quarters together' by many in the media and this is a perfect opportunity to put that narrative to rest. The Falcons' secondary has been downright awful this season, giving up more yards through the air per game than the Bears have combined for. Rookie corner A.J. Terrell and third-year corner Isaiah Oliver have been gashed through two weeks, which makes one think that the Bears will be looking to expose the pairing. With the emergence of rookie Darnell Mooney and offensive staple Allen Robinson, expect Mitch to be aggressive early and often as he has the potential to go off for a big day."
- Duke Coughlin (@ThatPodGuyDuke)
Kevin: CB Jaylon Johnson
"Johnson is the guy that can have the most impact on this game for the Bears. The Falcons currently have two WR1's on their roster in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Currently, Julio Jones is listed as questionable, according to the Falcons. Regardless, the Bears need to prepare as if Jones is starting. If he is, then Calvin Ridley will be matched up against Johnson. Johnson has proven to be a steal and one of the best defensive rookies thus far. He currently ranks second in the NFL with five passes defended and he has only allowed a completion percentage of 46.2%. Calvin Ridley has been a stud in his own right, amassing over 230 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games of the 2020 season. If Johnson can lock him down or try to simply contain him, then it will allow for the pass rush to get after Ryan. Their offensive line is highly questionable as multiple starters are questionable to play on Sunday."
- Kevin Gora (@kevingora21)
Aalap: WR Anthony Miller
"Miller had a rough game last week against a lackluster Giants' secondary. He had two drops including a touchdown that fell right into his hands. Miller ended the contest with zero catches. The Falcons’ pass defense has been a liability. Allen Robinson and rookie standout Darnell Mooney should garner most of the attention, thus leaving Miller to feast on an ailing and already suspect Falcons secondary. With rookie A.J. Terrell and struggling corner Isaiah Oliver starting on opposite sides of each other, this should be a huge bounce-back game for Miller."
- Aalap Desai (@ADesai410)
Duke: 35-17 Bears(2-0)
"Once again, I'm putting the Bears offense on a pedestal and expecting a big day. Matt Nagy has struggled to hold a lead multiple times since he's become head coach, but I expect him to continue balancing the offensive attack. The Bears NEED to score points against this Atlanta defense to build confidence down the road. With injuries along the Falcons' offensive line, I expect the pass rush to keep Matt Ryan on his back most of the afternoon. The best way to keep players like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley off the scoresheet is to keep the ball out of their hands. Look for the Bears to add to their sack total."
Kevin: 28-21 Falcons(2-0)
"The Bears are coming into this week undefeated at 2-0 and the Falcons are winless so far at 0-2. However, I feel that the Falcons will be coming into this game with a must-win mindset. While Atlanta's record reads 0-2, they are a better team than what the standings show. The Bears have shown they can be a good team when they are clicking on all cylinders, but they have barely beat out two bad teams in ugly wins. If Chicago can pull out this win, they will send a message to the league that they might be in store for a playoff appearance type of season. Ultimately, I think the Falcons are simply the better team with the more consistent quarterback play, which will help them beat out the Bears."
Aalap: 27-23 Bears(2-0)
"This feels like a classic trap game for the Bears. They'll be seeing an 0-2, severely wounded Falcons team with their backs against the wall before the Colts come to Soldier Field next week. As of Thursday, Julio Jones hasn’t practiced at all this week and is listed as “questionable”. Atlanta’s defense has been iffy with the secondary being the Achilles heel. Mitch Trubisky and the passing attack “should” have a field day."
That does it for the On Tap Sports Net’s crew’s Bears week three preview. The Bears and Falcons kick off at 12 PM CT on Sunday, September 27th. The game will be televised on FOX. For further analysis and commentary on all things Bears, be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast.