Chicago Bears (3-7) at Atlanta Falcons (4-6)
Kickoff: Noon, Sunday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
TV: FOX (Joe Davis, Daryl Johnston, Pam Oliver)
Radio: WBBM AM-780, FM-105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote)
Spanish Radio: TUDN 1200-AM and Latino Mix 93.5-FM (Omar Ramos, Miguel Esparza)
Latest Betting Line: Falcons by 3 (Over/under 48 1/2). Money Line, . Most up to date betting info at SI.com sportsbook.
BearDigest Pick: Bears 30, Falcons 28.
BearDigest Record: 7-3, 4-6 vs. the spread.
The Series: The 29th game, with the Bears leading 15-13. The teams are 7-7 in games played in Atlanta. The Bears have won three of the last four and 30-26 in the last game, played in Atlanta in 2020.
The Coaches: Bears coach Matt Eberflus is 3-7 in his first year.
Falcons coach Arthur Smith is 11-16 in his second season.
Last Week: The Bears had the ball for a final possession and turned it over on downs after one first down to lose to Detroit 31-30, following a late missed extra point by kicker Cairo Santos. Justin Fields ran for 147 yards and scored a TD on a personal best 67-yard run. The Bears ran for 258 yards, the fifth straight game they hit at least 225 yards rushing. It's the first time in NFL history this has occurred.
After beating Carolina two weeks earlier, the Falcons lost to the Panthers 25-15 and allowed 232 rushing yards. Marcus Mariota was held to 186 passing yards and picked off once. The Falcons ran for 138 yards but had no one with more than 43 yards rushing.
This Season: The Bears have lost six of their last seven and had chances to win or tie on their final possession four times but lost each, with another chance to tie aborted by a muffed punt. RB Khalil Herbert is unavailable to play for at least four weeks with a hip injury and is second in the NFL in yards per carry among running backs. Fields is 122 of 207 for 1,489 yards (58.9%) with 12 TD passes, 7 INTs and a passer rating of 86.4. Fields has a passer rating of 99.7 in his last six games. David Montgomery has 115 rushes for 434 yards and two TDs, while tight end Cole Kme has 23 catches for 274 yards and five TDs, including all five in the past three weeks. Darnell Mooney leads the team with 36 catches for 464 yards and a TD. Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker still leads the team in sacks with 3.0 and safety Eddie Jackson has four interceptions. Fields' 749 rushing yards leads the Bears and he has six TDs.
The Falcons have lost three of their last four and still trail Tampa Bay for the NFC South lead by only a game. QB Marcus Mariota has started all 10 games and has completed 143 of 231 for 1,747 yards and 61.9%. His passer rating is 89.9. Tyler Allgeier leads th Falcons in rushing with 443 yards on 102 carries with a TD, while former Bears player Cordarrelle Patterson has 402 yards on 76 rushes with five TDs. He has missed four of their games due to injuries. RB Caleb Huntley has 331 yards on 69 carries. Veteran DT Grady Jarrett has 4.5 sacks to lead Atlanta, while linebacker Lorenzo Carter has 2.5. Safety Richie Grant leads Atlanta with two interceptions.
- The Bears are 21st on offense, 32nd (last) in passing and first in rushing. They are 20th in scoring offense. Chicago is 15th on defense, 10th against the pass and 28th against the run. They are 25th in scoring defense.
- The Falcons are 27th on offense, 31st in passing and second in rushing yards. They are 12th in scoring on offense. Atlanta is 31st on defense, 32nd (last) against the pass and 18th against the run. They are 27th in scoring defense.
- Bears: WR N'Keal Harry (illness) is out. S Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) is out. G Teven Jenkins (hip), defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (knee) and cornerback Kindle Vildor (ankle) are questionable.
- Falcons: QB/TE Feleipe Franks is out (calf), DB Erik Harris (foot), CB AJ Terrell (hamstring) are questionable.
Of Note: Fields has the highest two-game rushing total by an NFL quarterback, surpassing the mark of 268 by Lamar Jackson on Oct. 13 and 20, 2019. He also is the only QB in the Super Bowl era with multiple rushing touchdowns of 60-plus yards in the same season, 61 and 67 yards. His 555 rushign yards the past five weeks are the most in a five-game span by a QB in the Super Bowl era. ... LB Jack Sanborn had the first two sacks of his career in his second start last week. ... Kmet's five TDs is tied with Baltimore's Mark Andrews for second in the NFL at tight end. ... Atlanta's Allgeier is fourth among rookies in rushing in the league. London's 38 catches for 407 yards is third among rookies in each category.
Next Week: The Bears are at New Jersey to play the Jets on Sunday at noon. The Falcons are at Washington on Sunday at noon to play the Commanders.
Key Individual Matchups
Bears DT Armon Watts vs. Falcons RG Chris Lindstrom
Watts and sometimes Justin Jones will be battling with the former Boston College lineman who is rated as Pro Football Focus' second-best guard in the league (87.4 grade). Lindstrom, in his fourth year, is hitting his stride. The 2019 first-rounder is highly mobile and at 6-3, 307, manages to get his hands on defensive players and moves them. He is the perfect wide-zone blocker with excellent speed. Watts, at least, is active in defending the run if not entirely successful. He has 14 tackles but only one for loss in the last give games.
Bears DE Trevis Gipson vs. Falcons RT Kaleb McGary
The 6-6, 306-pound Falcons right tackle is graded 13th in the league by PFF. McGary is starting to hit stride like Lindstrom. Like other Bears defensive ends, Gipson doesn't seem to be able to balance the run responsibilities required of ends in this 4-3 Tampa-2 with the pass rush. He had two sacks early, in a lopside loss at Green Bay, and none since then. His tackling hasn't been there in the running game, either, as he has 10 tackles in seven games and only one loss.
Bears LB Nicholas Morrow vs. Falcons TE Kyle Pitts
Pitts had a solid start last year but has struggled this season and has more than 28 yards receiving in only two games. His 6-foot-6 frame, at 246 pounds is bolstered by 4.44-speed in the 40 and because of that speed Morrow won't have the one real asset on his side that he usually commands. The Bears will need to handle Pitts with safety help and zone it up in this one. While Pitts is not having a good season, the Bears do not have someone who matches up well with him unless they decide to devote strong safety Jaquan Brisker entirely to this task. And as a rookie, he may not be able to do it.
Bears G Cody Whitehair vs. Falcons DT Grady Jarrett
Now 29, Jarrett is playing like he did a few years back and is dominating the line. He has a tackle total like a linebacker with 52, has eight for loss, and has 21 quarterback hits to go with his four sacks. He got the better of the Bears offensive line much of the last game they played, in 2020, when the Bears staged a miracle rally behind Nick Foles. Whitehair played a decent enough game in that one but handling Jarrett this year won't be easy. He is rated PFF's 26th best defensive tackle, one spot ahead of teammate Ta'Quon Graham, who also has good numbers.
But it's the massive type player who has given the Bears offensive line interior trouble and these two defensive tackles probably shouldn't be able to do this as they average 300 pounds between the two of them.
Bears DT Justin Jones vs. Falcons LG Colby Gossett
Or you could say, "whoever the Falcons throw out there." Gossett is getting his chance now. They've had Jalen Mayfield, Matt Hennessey and of all people, former Bears backup tackle Elijah Wilkinson start games there. In fact, Wilkinson has the most reps at the spot. gossett is 6-5, 311 and a former Appalachian State player who was drafted in the sixth round by Minnesota in 2018. Pro Football Focus gives him a mediocre 54.1 overall grade but he has been better as a run blocker. Jone might be coming off his best game with three tackles, two for loss and a quarterback hit. He has displayed more consistency in recent games after being converted into a 4-3 three technique and the Bears will need that disruptive factor again going against the NFL's fourth-best rushing team.
Bears WR Darnell Mooney vs. Falcons CB Darren Hall
Mooney has been consistent since Week 4, catching an average of four passes for 54 yards a game but only got to the end zone once. He's capable of more and proved it in his first two seasons. He's been playing like a dependable No. 2 target all year when he was supposed to be a No. 1. But now they have Chase Claypool for that, if they let him on the field. Hall and the entire Falcons secondary are an example of how someone should take Pro Football Focus' grades with a grain of salt. Individually, their cornerbacks all come out looking like average players. Their pass defense is next to last in the league. Is it because of a lack of pass rush? PFF tells everyone the pass rush is not as important as coverage ability. Faults in analytics aside, Hall is 6-foot, 190 and not a bad physical matchup for Mooney, who normally is facing players far bigger. The fourth-round pick has been a starter only for four games. In both of his seasons, SportRadar has him giving up a passer rating of 115 or higher.
Bears WR Chase Claypool vs. Falcons CB Rashad Fenton
Claypool was on the field only 19 plays last week. It's a ridiculous number for a player who was acquired with a second-round draft pick. He wasn't even used much on plays when he was on the field, and the Bears say he was covered with two men on many of his snaps. As much as Luke Getsy has proven his ability to adapt to the talent at hand, his love of wide receivers who block needs to have limits. These players are brought in to catch passes and if they block it's an asset. It's not the other way around. So Claypool and Velus Jones Jr. need to be getting more playing time or the offense's future will look much worse. Fenton is a backup cornerback. It appears he'll play over A.J. Terrell because of a hamstring injury, but this could change. Fenton has six starts and Sportradar puts him at a 125.0 passer rating allowed. It's not much better for the Falcons if they do get back Terrell, as his passer rating against is 122.5. In short, these are defensive backs Fields should be able to beat with his arm rather than legs.
Bears TE Cole Kmet vs. Falcons LB Mykal Walker
Kmet has been at his most productive level all year, if not for his career, by making five TD catches in three weeks. He's also shown a real ability all year to block the edge in this offense and make possible many of Fields' planned QB runs. Kmet showed he could be schemed open deep or get open in the red zone on play-action over the past three weeks and at 6-foot-6 is always a threat over smaller DBs on jump balls. Walker can match up decently as linebackers go with 6-3 height. He has allowed 85.7% completions when targeted, according to Sportradar. Falcons linebackers are more geared as run-stoppers in their 3-4 and are adept at it. Defending the pass hasn't been a strong point.
Bears QB Justin Fields vs. Falcons Defense
If ever it was set up for a quarterback to punish a franchise for not selecting him, this is it. It might not be entirely with his legs this week.