2011 NFL Week 1 Picks: Chicago Bears Beat Atlanta Falcons

Jake WestrichSenior Writer ISeptember 6, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 22:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass against the New York Giants during their pre season game on August 22, 2011 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Each Tuesday morning, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2011 NFL season.

Check out our 2011 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.

Gridiron Dynasty - College Football Game

Game of the Week: Falcons at Bears

A battle between the NFC's top seeds from 2010 kick off the new NFL campaign as the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears square off in the WhatIfSports' Game of the Week.

The Falcons made significant strides in Mike Smith's third year as head coach, compiling a 13-3 record to earn the conference's premier standing heading into the postseason. Also making progress was former No. 1 pick Matt Ryan, who cut down on his propensity for picks while increasing his completion percentage.

Michael Turner bounced back from an injury-plagued 2009 to total 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, while receiver Roddy White had career-highs in receptions (115) and yards (1,389). Alas, it was all for naught, as the Falcons were upended by the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round of the playoffs.

Chicago can empathize with Atlanta's plight, as they were also victims of the Packers pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy, falling to Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.

The defeat was highlighted (or marred) by questions surrounding quarterback Jay Cutler's MCL sprain, as many across the NFL landscape believed the Chicago signal caller should have returned to the game rather than sulk on the sidelines. This development soiled an otherwise solid season by the Bears, whose 11-5 record was good enough for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Newly-acquired Julius Peppers bolstered a defense that surrendered a conference-low 90.1 yards per game, while Matt Forte reverted to his 2009 form with 1,069 yards on the ground and another 547 yards through the air. And aside from the Conference Championship controversy, Cutler was able to cut down on his interceptions, throwing 10 less passes to opponents in 2010.

The Falcons have added rookie Julio Jones to their aerial assault, opening the field for White and tight end Tony Gonzalez while giving Ryan another target in the passing game. The big question mark for Atlanta will be the health of Turner, whose NFL-leading 334 attempts may correlate to durability issues this season. If Turner stays on the field, the Falcons may own one of the most explosive offensive attacks in the conference.

With the exodus of tight end Greg Olsen, the Bears are now molded into offensive coordinator Mike Martz's scheme. Furthermore, the addition of Marion Barber gives Chicago a bulking presence that Forte has been unable to provide the past three seasons.

The Bears have also added the talented but volatile safety Brandon Meriweather to their secondary, reinforcing one of the team's weaker units. Ultimately, the team's aspirations lie in the continued development of Cutler, who began to illustrate understanding of Martz's strategy in the second half of last season.

So who comes out on top in this clash of NFC titans? According to the WhatIfSports' award-winning simulation engine, the Bears win 52.9 percent of the time by an average margin of 20-19.

For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:

NFL Week 1
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Buffalo Bills 14.8 14 Boxscore
@ Kansas City Chiefs 85.2 28 Chiefs&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Buffalo+Bills" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Cincinnati Bengals 23.2 16 Boxscore
@ Cleveland Browns 76.8 26 Browns&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Cincinnati+Bengals" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Minnesota Vikings 25.7 20 Boxscore
@ San Diego Chargers 74.3 28 Vikings" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Dallas Cowboys 32.9 20 Boxscore
@ New York Jets 67.1 26 Cowboys" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Seattle Seahawks 39.9 19 Boxscore
@ San Francisco 49ers 60.1 22 Seahawks" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Indianapolis Colts 42.0 21 Boxscore
@ Houston Texans 58.0 24 Colts" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Detroit Lions 42.8 21 Boxscore
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 57.2 22 Buccaneers&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Detroit+Lions" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Atlanta Falcons 47.1 19 Boxscore
@ Chicago Bears 52.9 20 Simulate Game
Oakland Raiders 50.6 24 Boxscore
@ Denver Broncos 49.4 23 Raiders" target="_blank">Simulate Game
New Orleans Saints 52.1 21 Boxscore
@ Green Bay Packers 47.9 20 Saints" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Carolina Panthers 54.1 22 Boxscore
@ Arizona Cardinals 45.9 21 Cardinals&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Carolina+Panthers" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Tennessee Titans 64.0 26 Boxscore
@ Jacksonville Jaguars 36.0 21 Jaguars&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Tennessee+Titans" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Philadelphia Eagles 67.5 23 Boxscore
@ St. Louis Rams 32.5 17 Rams&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Philadelphia+Eagles" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Pittsburgh Steelers 72.0 22 Boxscore
@ Baltimore Ravens 28.0 16 Steelers" target="_blank">Simulate Game
New England Patriots 74.3 24 Boxscore
@ Miami Dolphins 25.7 16 Patriots" target="_blank">Simulate Game
New York Giants 79.2 26 Boxscore
@ Washington Redskins 20.8 16 Redskins&vSeason=2011&vTeam=New+York+Giants" target="_blank">Simulate Game


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