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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.
Game of the Week: Falcons at Bears
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|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||85.2||28||Chiefs&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Buffalo+Bills" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ Cleveland Browns||76.8||26||Browns&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Cincinnati+Bengals" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ San Diego Chargers||74.3||28||Vikings" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ New York Jets||67.1||26||Cowboys" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||60.1||22||Seahawks" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||58.0||24||Colts" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||57.2||22||Buccaneers&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Detroit+Lions" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ Chicago Bears||52.9||20||Simulate Game|
|@ 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|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||45.9||21||Cardinals&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Carolina+Panthers" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||36.0||21||Jaguars&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Tennessee+Titans" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ St. Louis Rams||32.5||17||Rams&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Philadelphia+Eagles" target="_blank">Simulate Game|
|@ 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|