WEEK 17: @ CHICAGO BEARS (1PM, FOX)
Happy New Year, Falcons fans! And what a way to celebrate by traveling to the Windy City and face off against Georgia native Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears. This game will truly determine if the Falcons ended up making the right choice drafting Kyle Pitts over the hometown kid, even if Chicago has notoriously struggled at finding even a modestly good signal-caller in franchise history.
If one recalls, the Bears last season were touted as one of, if not the worst, team entering the season, and they demonstrated that by going 4-13 and earning the #1 pick in the draft, which was not only aided by then-Texans coach Lovie Smith "gifting" his former employers, but subsequently traded to the Panthers for DJ Moore and a couple of future draft picks. One of those picks ended up being Darnell Wright, and he's going to be very battle tested at this point of the season; the results naturally are TBD, but that's what makes him unique. Plus, he's had to practice against Yannick Ngakoue; that's a guy who can really help in his development and recognizing pass rush moves.
Unfortunately, when looking at the Bears roster, there's really nothing different from last year's team except for one glaring connection: Fields to Moore. Yes, those passes were done in the preseason, but that doesn't mean the Falcons couldn't be prone to allowing a big play against. Do we need to remember the Thursday night game against Carolina last year where a simple screen pass turned into a 41-yard touchdown? Heck, it's possible that Chase Claypool could have a "coming out" party against our defensive backs; there's always one player who will.
Now, if one wanted to take into account the last four matchups between Atlanta and Chicago, this game is essentially a "rubber match" of sorts, as both teams have won two each (with Atlanta winning the sole game played in Soldier Field). Therefore, look for the Falcons to pound the rock on a very windy day to welcome in the 2024 calendar year and secure their first double-digit win season since 2017.
PREDICTION: ATLANTA 25, CHICAGO 18