The Chicago Bears (3-7) and Atlanta Falcons (4-6) are both coming off disappointing losses, though these offenses may be moving in opposite directions. Atlanta quarterback Marcus Mariota needs a rebound game at home before he ends up getting benched for rookie Desmond Ridder.
The Bears are a 3-point road underdog at many of the best sportsbooks, but can Justin Fields close in the fourth quarter against a team known for folding in those spots?
Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, November 20, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
The 2022 Bears Keep Making Ridiculous History
Even Atlanta fans will be impressed by Chicago’s three-game losing streak because the Falcons are known for doing some improbable things that still result in a loss. But few teams can rival what we are seeing with these Bears in 2022.
The Bears are the first team in NFL history to rush for at least 230 yards in five consecutive games. They are also the only offense to rush for at least 240 yards in four consecutive games.
A big part of that has been quarterback Justin Fields getting involved with scrambles and designed runs. Fields has rushed for 178 and 147 yards over the last two games, the first quarterback in NFL history to top 140 rushing yards in back-to-back games.
Big Numbers Are Not Enough
This is leading to points as the Bears have scored more than 28 points in four straight games, something the team has only done one other time since the 1970 merger. Not even the 1985 Bears did that as the best Chicago teams usually are dominant on the defensive side of the ball.
Despite all the rushing yards and points, the Bears have lost three games in a row. Incredibly, Chicago is the first team in NFL history to lose three straight games after scoring at least 29 points in each.
This offense is so out of the ordinary as it is the first one since the 1976 Steelers to hit even 200 rushing yards in five straight games. Yet, the Bears are just 1-4 over the last five games.
What's Going On?
The 2022 Bears are only the ninth NFL team since 1940 to rush for 200 yards in five straight games. When you look at the records in those games for those first eight teams, they were a combined 41-4-1.
But Chicago is 1-4. How is this possible? The defense hasn’t been good, and the passing offense has not been good enough for the Bears in the fourth quarter.
Fields threw a bad pick-six to the Lions on Sunday to help blow a 24-10 lead, and then for the second week in a row, he was unable to get the offense into field goal range when the Bears only needed a field goal.
The Offense Can Still Be Trusted
The Bears are losing a key piece of their running game for the next month as running back Khalil Herbert is out with an injury. He has been more effective than David Montgomery.
But with Fields’s rushing, the Bears should still have success on the ground against an Atlanta defense that just allowed 232 rushing yards to the one-dimensional Panthers.
But the loss of Herbert could even lead Fields to throw more, which would be a good thing for the development of this offense. The Falcons are also a generous pass defense to face with 68.6% completions allowed and 7.6 yards per attempt. Atlanta also ranks 29th on third down and 27th in points allowed.
Atlanta and the Weapons Argument
The 2022 Falcons are a confusing team because they run their offense the way the Bears thought they had to earlier this season. But Atlanta actually has some very fine weapons to throw to in rookie wideout Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts, and running back Cordarrelle Patterson is a Swiss Army Man who can do everything.
Yet the Falcons hide their passing game as if they were the Bears with a young Fields throwing occasional deep balls to Darnell Mooney with tight end Cole Kmet the only other notable receiver before the Chase Claypool trade with Pittsburgh.
Both teams should be throwing the ball more than they are in 2022, but the Falcons especially look silly with their approach.
On the other hand, Marcus Mariota’s decision-making was so asinine against Carolina that you can see why the Falcons are trying to limit how often he throws.
Mariota looked confused and tried to play hero ball in a game that never really got out of reach like the team’s loss in Cincinnati. He just made bad decisions all night and takes some of the worst sacks of any quarterback in the league.
This is an amusing time for these teams to meet with Atlanta blowing a golden opportunity in a weak division, and Chicago fans probably wishing that Fields had London, Pitts, and Patterson in his arsenal instead of Mooney, Kmet, and Montgomery.
Bears vs. Falcons: Pick and Prediction
It would be such a random NFL thing for the two most run-heavy offenses in the league to get into a passing shootout, but this game should be high scoring with two of the worst defenses at allowing points and stopping teams on third down.
We know the Falcons will want to get Patterson more involved after a bad Thursday night game, and the Bears just need to close out a game after being so close against the Dolphins and Lions the last two weeks.
But it comes down to trust at the quarterback position. Fields is far from a finished product, but if any defense can give a quarterback a boost to finish in a close fourth quarter, it would be the Falcons. Fields is also putting up yards and points while Mariota seems to be floundering in this offense that has not scored more than 17 points in three of the last four games.
The Bears’ historic rushing streak may or may not continue without Herbert this week, but one thing they won’t do again is score over 28 points and lose this one.
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