Matt Eberflus

3 Keys to a Bears victory over the Falcons in Week 11

The Chicago Bears are again riding a three-game losing streak, with yet another embarrassing loss to an NFC North rival they probably should have beaten. The last time this happened, the Bears were humiliated at home by the lowly Washington Commanders but bounced back with a hugely impressive road win over the New England Patriots. So, following a bad loss at home to the struggling Detroit Lions, might we see another big Bears win on the road against the Atlanta Falcons?

Vegas oddsmakers have the Falcons as three-point favorites (and since they’re the home team, those three points come automatically), so it’s certainly possible we’ll see the Bears get the upset win.

And if they follow these three keys, a win will be much more probable.

Pressure Marcus Mariota

The Bears’ pass rush has been missing in action the last two weeks, generating just seven pressures and two sacks total. Jared Goff, considered by many to be a bridge quarterback, was able to put up 31 points thanks to comfortable pockets to stand in.

Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota has struggled of late, but if the Bears can’t pressure him, he and his top two targets, Kyle Pitts and rookie wide receiver Drake London, could have a field day.

The defense owes the offense a special performance, starting with getting to the quarterback.

Take the Ball Away

Takeaways are another area where the defense has struggled. In fairness, undrafted rookie linebacker Jack Sanborn hauled in an incredible red zone interception against the Lions, but a phantom penalty against CB Jaylon Johnson negated it. Even if it counted, that would have been just one takeaway in the last two games.

That’s not good enough, not for a Chicago Bears defense. The offense has been playing some excellent football recently, and it’s time the defense shouldered their share of the workload with a timely takeaway or two, especially late in the game when the opposing team is trying to seal the win or come from behind.

Get Chase Claypool Involved

The Bears’ passing game has been improving, but it still has a ways to go. Wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet are finally becoming the kind of receiving threats fans expected them to be this season. A lot of credit for that goes to offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. His next challenge is to work recently acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool into the game plan.

Claypool is a big-bodied receiver with elite speed who can take the top off a defense, and the Bears coaches have been hinting at a greater role for Claypool this week than he’s had so far.

If Getsy can get all three of these weapons going against Atlanta, it could be a long day for the Falcons and lead to more musing from their fans about what could have been.

Prediction

The Falcons, like the Bears, are in the midst of a rebuild. Both teams have defenses giving up about thirty points per game over the last month.

In this contest, I have to give the edge to the team with the better quarterback, which is undoubtedly Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears. Look for a 34-24 win as the Bears stay one step ahead of the Green Bay Packers on the all-time wins list.

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