The 2010 NFL season ended with an 11-5 record and losing the NFC Championship game to the Green Bay Packers. Now the Chicago Bears seek to start the 2011 campaign on a high note. The Bears face the Atlanta Falcons who finished with a 13-3 record and the top seed in the NFC last year.
I have broken down the game into four important phases to determine a logical winner for this week’s matchup. The four important parts of the game that I consider to make a difference are the Offense, the Defense, the Special Teams, and (my personal) the 4th Phase X-Factor.
Now, we all know the importance of the first three phases, but I have decided to throw in a fourth dimension. The 4th Phase X-factor is a dimension of the game that I consider to be important to its outcome. It can consist of anything such as the home-field advantage (e.g. last year’s Wild Card matchup Seahawks vs. Saints), or a single player that can completely change the outcome of a game (e.g. 225 yards rec. and 3 TDs for Kenny Britt vs. the Eagles last year).
Bears – The Chicago Bears added a wide receiver this past offseason. Not sure if the term “offensive weapon” should be used but Roy Williams season will be an unpredictable one. The offensive line looks improved, despite losing a veteran center in Olin Kruetz. Look out for Johnny Knox to have a big game as he will try to establish himself as the primary offensive weapon. Matt Forte and Earl Bennet provide comfort for Jay Cutler as each are able to catch any pass and make a big play.
Note: Marion Barber is out Wk. 1 with a calf injury, so Kahlil Bell will backup Matt Forte in the Bears backfield
Falcons – The Atlanta Falcons also added an offensive weapon to their team. Julio Jones looks to be an offensive threat that you want on your team and target when he is the opponent. Now Matt Ryan has various targets to throw to especially Roddy White one of the best receivers in the game. The Falcons are also running the ball effectively with a tandem of Michael Turner and Jason Snelling.
My pick: Falcons
Bears – Arguably one of the best defensive lines in the game, Chicago should pressure Matt Ryan. DE Julius Peppers is a stud at his position and having all the attention may free up DE Israel Idonije for breakthrough season. Other veterans such as Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Chris Harris and Charles Tillman provide strong leadership and a fierce hunger for Falcon meat. Also, the addition of DT Amobi Okoye further strengthens the defensive line.
Falcons – The Atlanta Falcons were ranked 22nd in most passing yards allowed per game with 228.4 YPG, but were strong against the run (10th) allowing only 105.9 YPG rushing. The Falcons will have to rely on MLB Curtis Lofton to be the vocal guy and quarterback the Atlanta defense.
My Pick: Da Bears!
Bears – The Bears have Johnny Knox returning kickoffs, NFL Return record holder Devin Hester returning punts, and one of the most consistent FG kickers in the NFL Robbie Gould. Enough said!
Falcons – The Falcons have a talented return man in Eric Weems and also have a strong kicker in Matt Bryant.
My Pick: Da Bears!
4TH PHASE X-FACTOR
Bears – Although boasting the smallest stadium in the NFL with 61,500 seats, Soldier Field houses one of the loudest and most intimidating in the NFL. It is difficult for any team to enter this stadium feeling comfortable.
Falcons – The Falcons have plenty of offensive weapons for Matt Ryan. The most interesting player matchup will be Roddy White vs. Charles Tillman. Roddy White is a beast so Tillman could shut him down or surrender 150+ yards and 2 TDs. Watch this battle all day.
My Pick: Tie (if the Bears D can stop Roddy White)
My Winner for the Wk. 1 Matchup: DA BEARS!
Bears 23 Falcons 21
About the Author
Written by Kamil Kolodziejski
Born and raised a Chicago Fan! I am a recent graduate from DePaul University with a sports management degree. My lifelong goal is to become a part of the Sports Industry and hopefully one day work for one of my favorite teams in the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, or the Fire.