I’ll try to post a handful of matchups that favor the Falcons as well as their opponents for each game they play this year. The Falcons open the season against the Chicago Bears, a team that has a similar style and mentality as they do, which is to run the football and play good defense. While the Falcons want to be a more explosive team, they still aren’t likely to veer to far from that sort of identity.
Despite having eccentric Mike Martz as their offensive coordinator, the Bears in the latter half of the season began to play to their strengths, which is one of the reasons why they won their division and finished as the NFC’s second seed behind the Falcons. That strength is their defense, and offensively they decided to be more conservative and not put the turnover-prone Cutler in situations where he had to bear the load.
Abe poised for a huge game vs. Bears
The Falcons will want to get into a position where the Bears will be forced to throw the ball frequently, that way the Falcons defense can potentially create turnovers by preying on the Bears inexperienced offensive line and Cutler’s propensity to make mistakes.
Defensively, the Bears biggest weakness is their secondary, and if this game becomes an aerial battle, the matchups favor the Falcons.
Matchups I Like
Falcons pass rush vs. Bears O-line
As I wrote in August, I think the Falcons pass rushers should be licking their chops to face this Chicago Bears front. While the Bears did show some improvement over the course of the preseason as their new unit tried to gel together, it’s probably not enough where this matchup tilts anywhere close to the Bears favor. John Abraham will be facing J’Marcus Webb, a player that he should give major fits due to his ability to go right past him with speed or through him with power. On the opposite side is Ray Edwards, and he’ll face rookie Gabe Carimi. Edwards should have some veteran savvy to throw his way, being able to use his speed to get around the edge as well. Throw in Kroy Biermann getting some looks as well on either side of the line and you have a lot of heat coming off the corner for the Falcons all day to get pressure on Jay Cutler.
And a player that should not be forgotten in this matchup is Jonathan Babineaux. At left defensive tackle, he’ll be matched up against new right guard Lance Louis, who struggled in a handful of starts last year. Back in 2009, Babineaux routinely dominated replacement level guards, and if he intends to get back to that sort of level this year, then doing the same against Louis can be a very good tone setter for this season.
The average NFL offensive line gives up slightly more than 2 sacks per game. It should not be surprising if the Falcons are able to double or even triple the average production against the Bears defensive line.