The Atlanta Falcons are much better than their current 0-2 record claims and should be tied for the division lead with Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Even though it’s early in the season, they have dug themselves a hole that not many teams come out of. While the Bears are not the best undefeated team, key injuries have made this game much harder than anticipated.
Can the Falcons secondary step up?
We have yet to see any bright spots in Atlanta’s secondary. However, Chicago’s passing game is not up to the same level as either Dallas or Seattle. The Cowboys have one of the league’s best receiving trios, alongside one of the league’s premier running backs, and moved the ball downfield with ease. The weak pass defense was the sole reason Dallas had the ability to mount a comeback. The same can be said for Seattle with MVP frontrunner, Russell Wilson, putting up 322 yards with only four incompletions. Through two weeks, the Falcons defense has allowed 744 yards through the air and has yet to force a turnover.
However, the Bears don’t have Prescott or Wilson at quarterback. Mitch Trubisky had a very underwhelming performance against the Giants in Week 2, throwing for just 190 yards with two scores, but he also turned the ball over twice. With their leading receiver being a running back, this is the perfect opportunity for the Falcons’ secondary to get their act together.
Can the Falcons offensive line stick to form?
The Falcons will line up against Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, who joined in the offseason. Despite The Cowboys featuring one of the league’s best defensive lines, the Falcons’ offensive line held Matt Ryan sackless almost the entire game. Dallas’ lone sack came at the tail end of the fourth quarter. Matt Gono proved to be effective when tasked to replace second-year lineman Kaleb McGary, who left the game with a sprained MCL in the first quarter. McGary is only expected to miss one game, but I feel the Falcons have the right guy as a replacement.
Chicago was able to get to Daniel Jones in Week 2, sacking him four times and holding him to a 68 passer rating. Newcomer, Robert Quinn, was also able to force a fumble, giving him two turnovers on the day. Even though the Bears haven’t allowed an opposing quarterback to have a passer rating higher than 80 so far this season, they have yet to face an offense as good as Atlanta’s. Matt Ryan has posted nearly 800 yards and has been able to move the ball with ease up to this point. Keeping the Bears defensive line in check will be a major factor in deciding the outcome.
Is Calvin Ridley ready for WR1?
It seems as though the Falcons could be without star wide receiver Julio Jones, who aggravated a hamstring injury against Dallas. Despite remaining in the game, he was in clear discomfort, and it is unknown if he plays in Week 3. Jones last missed game came on Thanksgiving night in 2019, which saw Ridley receive 10 targets, resulting in 91 yards.
However, through the first two games in 2019, Ridley has proven to have taken the next step. In an attempt to do good on his promise of becoming an elite receiver, he leads the NFL in scores (4) and total yards (239). He is also fourth in the league in receptions. How much of this success is accredited to Julio Jones drawing the defensive gameplan away from Ridley is unknown. Even though Jones was essentially absent for the Falcons in Week 2, his presence is enough to allow Ridley to see single coverage.
Calvin Ridley is the only WR with top-5 PFF Grades in each of the first two weeks:
▪️Week 1: 89.5 (2nd)
▪️Week 2: 82.6 (4th)pic.twitter.com/OYalSyMDK9
— PFF (@PFF) September 24, 2020
Will Todd Gurley breakout?
Todd Gurley has yet to have a standout performance with the Falcons. After joining in the offseason on a one year deal, it was expected that he would help build a solid run game. Gurley saw an increase in snaps and carries in Week 2. However, he also saw a dip in yards per carry with less than three.
With the Bears’ defense allowing four yards per carry so far this season, this seems like a good time for Gurley to show his worth. Adrian Peterson was able to post 93 yards on the ground against this Bears defense. Hopefully, Gurley can perform similarly.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire