Matchups to Watch: Bears Offense vs. Falcons Defense
John Abraham has been the front seven's one bright light at the line of scrimmage. The Falcons' linebackers have been forced to back up and help pass coverage. If Kyle Orton can find a way to scare the Falcons deep early on, Forte will find open lanes and do some real damage.
OTs John St. Clair and John Tait vs. DE John Abraham: St. Clair has done a pretty good job so far this year blocking the likes of Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers, but he'll face another serious challenge Sunday in Abraham – the league's leading sacker with 7.0 in five games. The Falcons move Abraham all over the line in order to create matchup problems, so Tait will have to handle him periodically, too. One of the reasons Tait was moved from left tackle over to the right side this season is because of his struggles against speed rushers in 2007, and Abraham brings an abundance of speed to the equation.
Orton has a good feel for the pocket and knows how to deliver the ball on time, but don't expect him to have all those 30-plus yard completions this week like he did against the Lions – he just won't have enough time.
Matchups to Watch: Falcons Offense vs. Bears Defense
These two offenses are alike in that they want to shove the ball down your throat to make up for their relative lack of playmakers. The back who wins that battle between Turner and Forte will go a long way to deciding this game. Needless to say, resolving whatever's going on with Tommie Harris would be a big step in the right direction.
WR Roddy White vs. CBs Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher: Everybody in the building will know that Atlanta wants to establish the running game with Turner between the tackles, so the Bears will likely be playing eight men in the box more often than not. The Falcons can combat this by taking a few shots down the field with White, one of the most underrated deep threats around and third in the league so far in receiving yards. Tillman returned from a banged-up shoulder in Week 4 to have a whale of a game against Detroit, but Vasher was held out in Week 5 because of a bothersome wrist/thumb injury and might be a little rusty Sunday.
Even though Vasher will likely start the game after participating fully in Thursday's practice, look for a healthy dose of Corey Graham opposite Tillman because he's bigger and plays the run well.
The Falcons will win this game if ...
The Falcons will lose this game if ...
The Bears will win this game if ...
The Bears will lose this game if ...
John Crist: Atlanta did the Bears a favor by going into Lambeau Field and upsetting the Pack, paving the way for Chicago to rise to the top of the NFC North standings at 3-2. This team got a little too big for its britches after a Week-1 upset of the Colts in Indy, but it appears that a lesson has been learned and the locker room has been collectively more humble ever since. If Orton can continue to stay hot in the passing game, Chicago is simply the better ballclub ... Bears 26, Falcons 17.
Behind Enemy Lines: Part III
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