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The Chicago Bears travel down south to visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday for a Week 11 showdown.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the matchup, there is one thing I want to discuss. Justin Fields is the third highest-rated high school football recruit to ever come out of the state of Georgia. He went to high school just 27 miles north of Atlanta. This game is his homecoming. And it is his chance to make a statement to his hometown team, which drafted a tight end over him despite needing youth at the QB position. The same team that his dad had season tickets for when he was growing up. A team he idolized (especially Julio Jones). Family and friends will surely be in the stadium Sunday to see the fireworks that Justin Fields has in store.

Now that we have that out of the way, we are on to the Bears' key concepts for Sunday.

1. Make Ryan Pace Proud

Jan 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace before the game against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.

The former Bears GM is now a Senior Personnel Executive for the Falcons. In this game, I want the Bears players to make Ryan Pace proud. That means we see the Justin Fields to Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet connections working seamlessly. David Montgomery is excelling as a workhorse running back. Along the offensive line, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, and Teven Jenkins resemble a brick wall.

In the secondary, Eddie Jackson makes game-changing plays while Jaylon Johnson locks down his side of the field. And on the defensive front, Trevis Gipson gets after Marcus Mariota consistently. These players that Ryan Pace drafted are still the motor of this team. And if these players make Ryan Pace proud, the Bears will win this game.

2. Keep the Pocket Clean

Aug 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears center Cody Whitehair (65) runs onto the field before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. The Buffalo Bills won 41-15.
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Give Justin Fields a clean pocket. The Falcons only have 13 sacks on the season (31st in the NFL) and have generated a pressure rate of 10.8% (32nd in the NFL; per Pro Football Reference). More specifically, that means keeping Grady Jarrett at bay. The two-time Pro Bowler has generated 35% of Atlanta's sacks this season. Additionally, he has generated 30% of the Falcons' pressures, according to Pro Football Reference, and 25% of their pressures, according to PFF.

Mainly, I am looking at Cody Whitehair and Sam Mustipher. Because Jarrett lines up over the right guard the most often, these two players will be key to keeping him at bay.

Whitehair ranks 30th in PFF Grade and 27th in Pass Blocking Efficiency among 84 qualifying offensive guards. In true pass sets, he ranks 49th in PFF Grade and 61st in pass block efficiency among 84 qualifying offensive guards.

Meanwhile, Mustipher ranks 33rd in PFF Grade and 28th in Pass Blocking Efficiency among 39 qualifying offensive centers. In true pass sets, he ranks 31st in both PFF Grade and pass block efficiency among 39 qualifying offensive guards.

This will be a major factor in the Bears' ability to bring the downfield passing game to life. And that is a key to the Bears getting and keeping the lead in this game.

3. No Fly Zone Deep

Oct 30, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson (4) intercepts a pass thrown by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (not pictured) during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium.

The Atlanta Falcons boast one of the most aggressive offenses in the NFL when it comes to throwing downfield. They are likely to take a few deep shots in every game, especially if they are not generating enough yards on the ground. Mariota has thrown deep on 16.5% of his pass attempts this season (fifth-most among qualifying QBs). He has only completed 26% of those passes (31st) despite his pass catchers having zero drops. And, he has thrown four of his seven interceptions to the deep portion of the field. Clearly, he is not hitting his targets consistently downfield but has continued to be aggressive downfield.

The Chicago Bears' defensive backs will need to take advantage of opportunities for takeaways. Currently, the Bears rank ninth in the NFL with nine interceptions on the season. Chicago's linebackers will need to get depth quickly off play action. This is how the Falcons want to attack opponents. Run the football until the linebackers are cheating up, then force them to make up significant ground on deep and intermediate throws off play action. The Bears' linebackers cannot be lulled into run fits and get lost on the play action passes.

The Falcons are a very comparable team to the Bears in roster makeup, results, and style of play. Both teams have been involved in multiple games with heart-stopping finishes, and I would not expect much of the same on Sunday.

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