5 Questions: Bears vs. Falcons

Nov 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneeras won 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneeras won 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, the wait is over! Week one in upon us, and we don’t have to be without meaningful football until February. So now we get to see what the Bears are made of, but what do you we have to look for in week 1?

  1. Who is healthy?

The Bears are already off to a rougher start than they would like in regards to injury. Kyle Long has had a longer than expected recovery, Pernell Mcphee had a surprise PUP stint, Markus Wheaton had appendicitis and a broken thumb, Cam Meredith was lost to a torn ACL, and Prince Amukamara is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. All of which figure to be key pieces this year but are Questionable or Doubtful for the opener. Luckily for the Bears, they have the depth to succeed around these injuries for the most part, which the glaring exception at receiver.

  1. Who does Mike Glennon throw to?

The Bears’ receiver core is terrible. Yeah, I said it and it is true. They are easily bottom 5 in the league. The main question in this group is whether Kevin White lives up to his draft status and whether he will be able to build meaningful chemistry with Glennon. If so, it would ease plenty of issues in the organization, reducing the glaring need at the position to just a big need. The tight end group is surprisingly deep for the first time in years with pass catchers and big targets, so I expect plenty of 2 tight end sets to set up the run game.

  1. Can the defense stifle a Super Bowl quality offense?

The Falcons are led by reigning MVP Matt Ryan and superstar receiver Julio Jones, and their running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were sneaky dominant last season. They rode that offense to an NFC championship win and at least one half of dominance against the Patriots. The Bears’ defense looks to be vastly improved this year, but this will be the biggest test right from the jump. The front seven will have a chance to prove it can be dominant if it can limit the run game and generate pressure on Ryan. Leonard Floyd gets to start his Pro Bowl campaign, and Danny Trevathan says he is 100% and gets his chance to prove it. The defensive line of Hicks, Goldman, Bullard, Unrein, and Robertson-Harris can pick up where they left off in the preseason, but the major test will be if the heavy investment in the secondary can pay dividends early. Eddie Jackson begins his defensive rookie of the year journey and for Kyle Fuller, his redemption story.

  1. Who are the Bears?

Week 1 sets the tone for the entire season. The Bears have a tough start to their schedule and they need to find their identity fast. We know what they want to be, a tough running team with a stingy defense, but can they be that? Can they be more? They have talent on offense and a rising coordinator is Dowell Loggains, but can he overcome the shortcomings in the receiver core and the mediocrity of Mike Glennon? The Falcons are a legit contender and we get to see how the Bears compare early, but can they pass this test?

  1. Can the Bears pull off the upset?

The only question that really matters, can they win? The short answer is yes. We just witnessed the Chiefs dominate the Patriots in the opener and, although the talent gap is larger between the Bears and Falcons, on any given Sunday anybody can win. The Bears are a sneaky good matchup for the Falcons with our strengths lining up well to their weaknesses. It would not be as crazy as people think for the Bears to pull an upset.

So the wait is over and today the Bears season kicks off. The Bears have a chance to change the narrative surrounding the team and build their hopes of contention. Coaching jobs are on the line and plenty of players will get the shot at greatness. Bears football is back baby, and it is glorious.

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