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Keys to the game roundtable for Bears-Falcons

Chicago has a chance to win their fifth straight home game. Our staff says what it’s going to take.

NFL: DEC 24 Colts at Falcons Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons have a lot in common.

They’ve been up and down at different points this season, they’ve struggled offensively at times while playing strong on defense.

Both have coaches that are not guaranteed to return in 2024. Both have lingering questions about their future quarterback.

Sunday will be a fascinating game for both teams with a lot on the line.

Our staff chimed in with their keys to the game.

Sam: The Falcons are an up-and-down squad with questions about their QB and coaching staff. Sound familiar? The Bears are again favored, which is an odd position for this season. Chicago’s defense should be able to take care of business against a middling offense with a strong run game. Slow down Bijan Robinson and get after whoever starts at QB this week and it should be all right.

On offense, the Falcons have a top-10 defense and one of the better passing defenses. Take care of the football and rely on the running game to get the W this week.

Taylor: There are several Bears that are playing at a very high level recently, mainly on the defensive side of the ball but from all the breakdowns of Justin Fields’ game last week, he is also playing well. Khalil Herbert looked like he had his juice back, DJ Moore is on track for a career year as is Cole Kmet. The offensive line gets a big guy back as Teven Jenkins returns, and for me, that is a recipe for a win. But we have seen what the lack of coaching has done in moments when we feel like we are rolling. I think continuing to run the ball is huge; the Falcons' defense has been pretty good, only allowing about 19 ppg the last five games, but their offense has struggled, so the Bears' defense has to continue to get to the quarterback and force turnovers.

Josh: Chicago needs to own this game. Justin Fields needs to show off everything he has on every drive. He needs to push the ball down field and prove that he can make aggressive throws to players not named Moore or Kmet, because the Falcons will probably be able to limit his options at least a little, there. Meanwhile, the defense should be able to tee off on an Atlanta offense that depends on the run.

Jack R Salo: What even is this Falcons team? One week they get stifled on offense and lose a nearly-unwatchable game to the Panthers, then next week they lay waste to a Colts team which is pretty good overall. For the Bears to have success on offense, Fields is going to have to put tight-window throws right on the money. The Falcons have shown that they can keep a team’s No. 1 receiver in check, holding Calvin Ridley, Tank Dell, Mike Evans (once), and Garrett Wilson all under 58 yards receiving. Somebody other than DJ Moore needs to get going, especially if Cole Kmet doesn’t play.

For the Bears on defense, the Falcons have a way of flipping a switch and getting multiple guys going downhill fast. Bijan, Tyler Allgeier, Kyle Pitts, and even ex-Bear Cordarrelle Patterson are all threats, and you can’t cover them all. A huge key in this will be how well the Bears can contain Bijan. If they force Taylor Heinicke to beat them through the air, then the Bears’ second-highest league interception total should grow larger still.

Lester: The Bears are the better team right now, and the strength of their defense should be able to thwart Atlanta’s tough running game. Force the Falcons to throw and get after the quarterback. On offense, the Bears need to stick with the run again this week. A healthy dose of Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson, and a returning D’Onta Foreman should be able to pummel the Falcon defense, which will open things up for Justin Fields in both the passing and running game.

ECD: Hey, look, the coaching staff (barely) closed out a game against a bad Cardinals team! Progress! Now do it again! The Chicago Bears host an Atlanta Falcons team that has no sense of direction whatsoever at QB. A feeling former Bears GM and current Falcons front office exec Ryan Pace seems all too familiar with. Their defense can be tough against the pass, but they’re also pretty inconsistent. DJ Moore roasted the Falcons during his career with the Panthers. On the other side of the ball, Drake London is becoming a force at wide receiver, and Kyle Pitts is a dangerous threat at tight end. Still… they don’t have a QB. And their OL isn’t all that great in pass protection, either. Montez Sweat should have another huge game against his hometown team.

What are your keys to the game? Can the Bears win a fifth-straight home game to close out 2023 at Soldier Field?