The Atlanta Falcons are set to begin their season today with a tough matchup against the Chicago Bears. Both teams made the playoffs, both have a wealth of talent, and both also have high aspirations for this season. What's more, both have also improved since last year.
The Falcons added a pass-rushing threat in Ray Edwards, a vertical receiving threat that can stretch the field in Julio Jones, and depth to the often-criticized secondary in the form of recently signed DB's Kelvin Hayden and James Sanders.
While Cutler has his share of weapons, Matt Ryan has multiple playmakers at literally every position. Michael Turner, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, and Tony Gonzalez make up a star-studded set of skill position players for the Falcons. Thomas Dimitroff wanted to add explosiveness to the offense, and now that is exactly what the Falcons offense possesses.
While both teams fielded quality defenses last season, the Bears definitely held the edge in that category. The Falcons will have to hope former first-round draft picks Sean Weatherspoon and Peria Jerry can live up to their original projections.
Finally, though it may seem cliche, this game will come down to the offensive lines of both teams. The Bears have a great pass rush, but given time Matt Ryan can pick the Chicago secondary apart. As for the Bears, their O-line has been something of a sore spot in recent years. If John Abraham and company can get after Cutler, all will go well at Soldier Field in the Falcons' 2011 season opener.
If I had to make prediction, I'd say it'll be a 28-17 Falcons victory. Now, on to the game details:
Game Date/Time: Sunday, September 11, 1:00 P.M. ET
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Bears: FOX WFLD
Falcons: FOX WAGA
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Bears: WBBM 780 AM
Falcons: WSTR 94.1 FM
For more on the Bears, head over to Windy City Gridiron. For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic. Follow the rest of the Week 1 action a SB Nation Atlanta.