Reggie Roberts: What kind of season are the Bears having and what is the strength of their team?
Brad Biggs: The Bears have been up and down so far in 2014, not unlike a lot of other teams across the NFL. The strength of the roster is on offense where the club has invested heavily in players like quarterback Jay Cutler, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Matt Forte, among others. But the team has struggled in the second half of the last two games — losses to the Packers and Panthers — scoring a total of three points. Turnovers have been an issue and they have struggled putting together a complete game. The Bears have run the ball well in really just one game, a 38-17 loss to the Packers at Soldier Field in Week 4, and that is a departure from last season. They remain explosive on offense with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett giving Cutler dangerous targets downfield. If the Bears can come together offensively, they can compete with pretty much any team out there.
RR: When you think of the Bears, you think of a powerful ground game and a punishing defense. Are those cornerstones a part of the 2014 Bears?
BB:It's not the running game your father saw the Bears use for decades. The Bears are more of a finesse running team now and they really haven't used a lot of power schemes so far this season, save for a lead draw that was called in the loss to Green Bay. Matt Forte is a versatile running back who is as good as any at his position in the league catching the ball out of the backfield. He runs with excellent vision and the coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer are using more of a zone scheme. The vaunted defense the club had for many years under former coach Lovie Smith is also departed. The Bears struggled defensively last season when they allowed more rushing yards than any other team in franchise history. They've made moves to shore up the defensive line by signing three ends — Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young — and drafting a pair of tackles that are getting significant playing time — Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton. Seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs remains from the Smith defenses but cornerback Charles Tillman has been placed on injured reserve and it's a different bunch all together.
RR: The Falcons have been very good at home under Mike Smith in that they have posted a 38-12 record since 2008. What kind of game do you expect on Sunday in Atlanta?
BB: The Falcons are tough to beat in the Georgia Dome and the Bears have played well on the road through the early portion of the season with victories at San Francisco and at MetLife Stadium over the New York Jets. The Bears will surely look to get their passing game going against Atlanta's secondary and I'd expect the Falcons and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to do likewise. The Bears have had issues at safety creating possibilities for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White.
RR: This game will feature two of the best wide receiving tandems in the NFL. The Falcons showcase Julio Jones and Roddy White while the Bears counter with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Who has the edge?
BB: The team with the ball is going to have the edge. Both teams are highly productive throwing the ball. Maybe the Bears rate a slight edge when you consider the complementary targets Jay Cutler has with tight end Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte but Ryan should do well and I wouldn't discount the production he gets from Devin Hester and Harry Douglas, provided Douglas is back from a foot injury. One thing to keep an eye on when the Falcons have the ball is rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller. The Bears drafted him 14th overall and he was named the NFL's defensive rookie of the month for September with three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Fuller is big, smart and shows no fear.
RR: And finally, give us a prediction for Sunday's game?
BB:With both teams coming in at 2-3, both need a victory to get back to a more comfortable position at .500 and remain in the hunt in their respective divisions. The Falcons look like a different team at home. I'm hesitant to select them because the pass rush has been anemic through the first five games but I'll take Atlanta in a close game, 28-24.