There are plenty of reasons to feel confident about a Falcons win over the Bears, and not nearly as many reasons to doubt that outcome. In the interest of fariness, though, we’re going to distill down our hopes and fears and come up with one reason to feel good and one reason to worry about the matchup ahead.
Make no mistake: This is one of the easier matchups on the docket all year, especially with Chicago suffering some unfortunate injuries. Just don’t make the mistake of taking them lightly, not when you can do that with the Jets.
Feel confident about: Injuries and receiver talent
These two concerns go hand-in-hand for Chicago. The Bears are not bereft of talent at receiver, but they did lose top receiver Cameron Meredith, leaving them with . Jordan Howard is an interesting, talented back, but Mike Glennon is gonna need to throw the ball to somebody. Right now, there just aren’t a lot of compelling options, with Kendall Wright and injury-prone Kevin White leading the way for the Bears.
Couple that with injuries to Kyle Long and Prince Amukamara and you’ve got yourself a depleted Bears team that is going to have more trouble on offense and defense than they would have otherwise. That’s a good reason to feel confident.
Worry about: Regression to the mean
A year ago, the Falcons were impossibly great on offense, putting up one of the ten or so best seasons in NFL history. They also had a +11 turnover differential, one of the best marks in the NFL a year ago, fueled by an opportunistic defense and a probably unsustainably low number of interceptions from Matt Ryan. There are ample reasons to believe defensive improvement will erase the inevitable regression on the offensive side of the ball, but that regression is coming, however small it proves to be. If the Falcons were to pull off that kind of turnover differential and offensive performance again, it would be truly historic.
The Bears will likely be regressing in a different direction. They had a truly abysmal turnover differential in 2016, with a -20 that was tied for last in the NFL with the Jets. Turnovers tend to be random from year-to-year, in the sense that the number of fumbles you recover tends to be predicated on the bounce of the ball, and interceptions aren’t much more predictable. The Bears are very unlikely to be that unlucky again, and that means they’re probably going to surprise some people this year with their relatively decent performance. Again, not to be taken lightly.