The Atlanta Falcons already face a must-win game, and it’s only Week 6 of the 2014 NFL season.
The Falcons host the Chicago Bears in what will be their only game at home in the Georgia Dome until November 23. Atlanta plays a “home” game against the Detroit Lions in London in Week 8.
At 2-3, Atlanta has shown an inability to win on the road, posting an 0-3 record through the first three away games. In their past 11 road games, the Falcons have won just one game.
On the flip side, the Bears’ two wins have both come on the road. Like Atlanta, Chicago has a 2-3 record as well. Unlike the Falcons, the Bears’ 2-3 record puts them in last place in the NFC North while the Falcons are second in the NFC South.
Highlighting the matchup is Devin Hester facing his former team. The former Bear spent the the first eight years of his career with Chicago before being signed by the Falcons.
The Bears were seemingly unable to use Hester on offense, as evident by the fact he strictly returned kicks last season. So far this season with the Falcons, he caught 14 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown. He was also scored the first rushing touchdown of his career.
While Hester is a game-time decision, he’ll undoubtedly do everything he can to get a chance to face his former team.
Atlanta boasts one of the league’s best offenses, ranking third in points with 30.2 and third in total yards with 434.6. Through their two home games, the team has averaged 46.5 points. Compare that to the Falcons’ 19.3 points per game average on the road.
The Falcons defense will have its hands full with a Chicago offense that features wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, running back Matt Forte, and tight end Martellus Bennett. Between those four players, Jay Cutler has tossed all 12 of his touchdowns; Marshall leads the way in receiving touchdowns with five.
Through two games at home, Matt Ryan has thrown for 734 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions on 52 of 67 passing. His passer rating is 142.2 compared to 72.8 on the road.
While the Bears have Jeffery and Marshall, the Falcons have their own formidable duo in Julio Jones and Roddy White. Just as Atlanta’s secondary will be tested, Chicago will face a similar test. The two duos are often mentioned among the league’s best pair of receivers.
Atlanta’s offensive line could get a boost if guard Justin Blalock is able to play. He missed last week’s game against the New York Giants.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons have a good opportunity to add to their four-sack total as Cutler has already been sacked 12 times.
Ryan is 2-1 against the Bears, with both wins coming while playing at home. I think he improves to 3-1, and the Falcons remain undefeated at home.