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Week 11 Game Preview: Atlanta Falcons

There’s a lot of familiar faces on the other sideline as the Bears try to snap a three-game skid.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We can debate about whether or not we want to see the Chicago Bears win.

In fact, you can read my feelings on that debate right here.

But either way, this is a winnable game, even if it is on the road, against an opponent with a losing record.

Nothing seems to be coming easy to the Bears though. And once you get into the numbers, these teams are a lot closer than may have appeared at first.

Atlanta Falcons

SB Nation site: The Falcoholic

Record: 4-6, second in the NFC South

Last week: 25-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX

Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Falcons are 3.5-point favorites. The total is set at 49.

Bears all-time record against: 15-13

Historical meetings: Back in week 2 of 1992, the 1-2 Bears and 1-2 Falcons met at Soldier Field.

The Bears dominated the first half and took a 31-7 halftime lead on a Kevin Butler Field goal and two Jim Harbaugh touchdown passes (one to Tom Waddle and one to Wendell Davis) and a Neal Anderson 49-yard touchdown.

The Falcons tried to mount a comeback with two third quarter touchdowns but Brad Muster rushed for another Chicago score and the Bears added another field goal in the fourth to win 41-31.

Last meeting: 30-26 Bears win in week 3 of 2020.

Mitch Trubisky was benched for Nick Foles, who came in to rally the team in the fourth quarter. Foles led three fourth-quarter TD drives to bring the Bears back from down 26-10.

Foles told Anthony Miller to run to the L in the Falcons endzone and hit him for the game-winning score with 1:53 left in the game.

Injury report: The Falcons listed three players on their Wednesday injury report.


  • CB A.J. Terrell (hamstring)
  • FS Erik Harris (foot)

Did not participate

  • TE Feleipe Franks (calf)

Offense: Atlanta’s offense comes into this week ranked 12th in points and 27th in yards.

Their passing offense ranks 30th, while their rushing offense ranks fourth.

Marcus Mariota (61.9 pct. cmp./1,747 yds./12 TD/7 INT) is playing well, but has come under fire after a dismal performance against the Panthers last Thursday night.

The Falcons’ attack is balanced, with three more pass attempts than rush attempts.

Mariota’s receivers are two young, dynamic players in Drake London (38 rec./407 yds./3 TD) and TE Kyle Pitts (25/313/2). Behind them are Olamide Zaccheaus (24/365/2), KhaDarel Hodge (11/184/1), and former Bear, who is still making big plays, Damiere Byrd (7/200/2).

On the ground, Tyler Allgeier (102 att./443 yds./1 TD) is the leader, but only because Cordarrelle Patterson (76/402/5) was hurt. Ball State University legend (LEGEND) Caleb Huntley (69/331/1) is also working in the backfield.

Mariota himself (63/347/3) is still a very effective runner, too.

Defense: The Falcons defense ranks 27th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed.

Their passing defense ranks last in the league, while their rushing defense ranks 18th.

Leading tacklers are Rashaan Evans (95 tkls./1 sk./4 PD/1 FF/5 TFL), Mykal Walker (76 tkls./1 sk/1 INT/2 PD) and Richie Grant (70 tkls./2 INT//7 PD).

Leading pass rushers are Grady Jarrett (4.5 sk./9 TFL/11 QB hits), Lorenzo Carter (2.5 sk/1 INT/2 PD/4 TFL/6 QB hits) and Arnold Ebiketie (1.5 sk/1 FF/9 QB hits/1 TFL).

Key match ups: For once, the Bears’ passing game might find some more favorable match ups.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t want to run the ball. The Falcons have the second-fewest sacks in the league (13) and are dead last in pressure rate.

Ideally, that means time for the receivers to get downfield and get open and time for Justin Fields to find them.

For the Bears’ defense, the Falcons are second behind Chicago in rushing offense. The Bears have struggled to slow down opponents’ run game, so it’s pretty obvious how Atlanta will attack.

The defense will need to get off the field and slow down a Falcons offense that is 11th in average drive time.

Slowing down Patterson and Allgeier and keeping Mariota contained are the keys here. If Mariota has to throw a lot, the Bears would be better off.

Key stats

  • The Falcons have the second-fewest sacks in the league with 13, but that’s only two fewer than the Bears have.
  • The Falcons and Bears are very even in a lot of areas. The Falcons rank 30th in pass yards per game, while the Bears rank 30th. The Falcons rank fourth in rushing yards, the Bears are first. Both teams are even in turnover differential.
  • Atlanta averages 23.2 points per game. Chicago averages 21.7. Atlanta allows 25 points per game. Chicago allows 24.7.
  • Over the last month though, the Falcons are averaging 21.5 points per game, while Chicago averages 31. They have allowed 28.5 points per game in their last four games. Chicago has allowed 32.2.
  • Former Bear Cordarrellle Patterson is the Falcons’ top playmaker. He is second on the team in yards from scrimmage and has the most total touchdowns despite missing four games.
  • Damiere Byrd can still fly. He has just seven catches, but for 200 yards. He is averaging 28.6 yards per catch.
  • Under Arthur Smith, the Falcons are 2-0 off extra rest (they played last Thursday and will face the Bears on 10 days rest.

Can the Bears break their losing streak? Will the defense get enough stops to slow down the Falcons and earn a W?