After dusting off the offense in week five against the San Francisco 49ers, the Falcons return home to face the Jay Cutler led Bears. Last season these two teams squared off and the legacy of Matt Ryan began.
With six seconds left in the game, Ryan connected to Michael Jenkins on the sidelines to put the Falcons in field goal range with one second remaining. After the Jason Elam field goal, the Bears fans left the Georgia dome stunned.
How many teams get a second chance at redemption that quickly? It was almost (one week) to the day one year ago in the same Stadium.
"We still talk about it, 11 seconds on the clock and how we lost that game," wide receiver Devin Hester said. "On this Sunday, we don't want to have that feeling again when we walk off the field."
This season, the Bears bring a new quarterback and a new attitude. The Bears of past were always known for defense but with second year running back Matt Forte and new quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears anticipate being able to change to an offensive team.
But if the Bears plan to stay in a shootout with the Falcons, they will need to rely on a receiving core that is pedestrian at best. The Bears defense took a hit with the losses of standout linebacker Brian Urlacher and oft injured safety Mike Brown.
Both teams come into the game at 3-1. Neither team can afford to lose ground on their division leaders who are undefeated.
WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' BLITZES
The Chicago Bears are a team that is not afraid to bring the heat. That said, Falcons QB Matt Ryan is 2nd in the NFL at exposing it. He boasts a 117.5 passer rating when blitzed going 29 of 44 for 399 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
LESS IS MORE FOR CHICAGO
The only game the Chicago Bears have lost this season (Green Bay) was the only game they produced more offensive yards than their opponent. In all three victories, they have been outgained.
The Bears are a team that capitalizes on the mistakes of the opponent. With the way the Falcons running backs are fumbling the ball, the Bears defense has to be licking their chops at the opportunities ahead.
WHERE IS THE LUNCHBOX
Ovie Mughelli left last weeks game with a leg injury. What hasn't been said is exactly what type of injury is it and will be be out for any defined length of time? He is a crucial part of the Falcons rushing attack.
THE NEW MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Something that stood out Sunday against the Niners was No. 98 Jamaal Anderson was noticeably in the backfield. This is something Falcons fans have waited over two years to witness.
It seems playing at the under tackle position suits the former first round pick. We will have to follow the progress of how this project works out. So far, it looks promising.
STAY OUT OF MY END ZONE
After four games this season, the Falcons are ranked 4th in the NFL in points allowed. They have only allowed 63 points (15.8 gm) while allowing 356 yards a game. That ranks them 20th in the NFL.
Opposing teams average a staggering 4.9 yards a carry and 228 yards passing per contest. Yet somehow they manage to keep their enemy out of the promised land.
THE BEERMAN COMETH
Last week, defensive end John Abraham did what one would expect. He followed up two consecutive no sack games with a sack. Well, he had to wait until Kroy Biermann got his third of the season.
Since the Falcons moved Anderson to tackle, Biermann had more time on the field. He took advantage of it. This is one name I'm sure Cutler has heard quite a bit throughout the week.
WHO TO WATCH
Adewale Ogunleye vs. Tyson Clabo and Harvey Dahl
Ogunleye is a fierce pass rusher. His size and athletic ability make him one of those special athletes that creates his own mis-matches. He gets the joy of lining up opposite the Nasty Boys.
Prone to play thru the whistle, and beyond, they are driven. This will be a fun one to watch unfold. As usual, I predict a personal foul penalty.
Devin Hester vs. Brent Grimes
I cannot with any certainty say they will stay matched up. But, at some point during the game it will happen.
Both players are touted as the most athletic players on their respective teams. Both are small, quick and have incredible agility.
Matt Forte vs. Curtis Lofton
Both of these second year players came out their rookie seasons and turned heads. They are both excellent players.
Forte has come out slowly this season but don't let that fool you. He's a product of a more efficient passing offense under Cutler. He is a threat to run or receive the ball.
That's where Lofton earns his paycheck. He ranks No. 2 in the NFL in solo tackles. Did I mention he's had his bye week already? He ranks sixth is total tackles as well and last week blitzed more than any other time in his career.
SO WHO WILL WIN?
Head coach Mike Smith knows if the Saints lose the Falcons can take first place in the NFC South. That sets up an interesting Monday night game against the Saints in two weeks. He will have his team prepared at home.
Falcons 27, Bears 21
Watch for defensive end John Abraham to have a big day.