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Bears-Falcons: Three Keys to a Chicago Victory

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    ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18: Running back Steven Jackson #39 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball in the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    The Chicago Bears will need a strong effort on both sides of the ball Sunday if they’re going to best the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome, and we have their three keys to victory here.

    Contain the Falcons’ Passing Game

    The Falcons currently have the league’s second-best passing attack, and they are loaded with weapons that Matt Ryan can utilize through the air. Julio Jones and Roddy White are among the top receiving tandems in the NFL, and they’ve proven that early on as they’ve combined for 56 catches for 765 yards and five touchdowns on the young season.

    If the Bears are going to get the win in this game, they have to keep those two players in check. Kyle Fuller will likely draw most of the assignments against Jones (no small task for a guy who struggled a bit against Jordy Nelson but has largely looked good so far), and Tim Jennings will be assigned to White. Devin Hester could also pose a matchup problem for the Bears in the slot, with Demontre Hurst likely to get assignments against him at the nickel corner spot.

    Establish the Run Early

    The Falcons have one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL, giving up nearly 150 yards per game on the ground. The Bears have been slowly improving in their running attack over the past few weeks, moving up from among the league’s worst to around the middle of the back, averaging 116 yards per game.

    In this one, Matt Forte and Ka’Deem Carey will need to be in top form as the Bears look to end their two-game losing streak. Both players came out of the gate firing against the Green Bay Packers as the Bears rushed for over 200 yards in that contest, and they will need a similar outing today. Not only would that help the team’s offense to move down the field, but more importantly it would help milk time off the clock and keep the potent Falcons’ offense from seeing the field.

    Second Half Adjustments Must be Precise, Effective

    Over the past three weeks, the Bears have scored a whopping 13 second-half points (10 against New York, zero against Green Bay, and three against Carolina), and have been outplayed by a large margin in the final 30 minutes of those contests. Sunday has got to be a different narrative for Marc Trestman and company as they try to win on the road for the third time this season.

    Whether it’s tweaking offensive gameplans to counter whatever moves the Falcons make, or Mel Tucker making adjustments to his defensive schemes to give Ryan and his teammates different looks at the line of scrimmage, the Bears have to continue to keep pressure on their opponent. Too often over the past three weeks the Bears have simply kept everything in place, and the Panthers and Packers especially really took off as they were able to neutralize the Bears’ attack.

    That can’t happen again, and Trestman and Tucker have to show that they are as capable of counter-punching as their opponents have proven.