Atlanta Falcons (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U) vs. Chicago Bears (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 7:10 p.m. EST
The Line: Atlanta Falcons -7. Total: 50.5.
The Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons will help kick off Week 1 of the NFL season when they collide at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Atlanta won the NFC title last year but then collapsed in a Super Bowl loss to New England. The rebuilding Bears are coming off a disastrous 3-13 campaign.
Winless in the preseason
The Falcons wrapped up their preseason schedule with a 13-7 loss to Jacksonville last Thursday night. It was the team’s fourth loss in as many games, but head coach Dan Quinn will not be too alarmed by anything in the department of wins and losses prior to the real thing–which does not begin until Atlanta visits Chicago on Sunday. After all, the primary objective in the preseason is to emerge from it unscathed in the injury department (just ask the Bears about that). Moreover, Atlanta was ahead when the starters exited in each of its first two outings.
An additional reason not to fret is that running back Devonta Freeman is ready to go after sitting out the entire preseason with concussion-like symptoms. Quinn announced last Tuesday that Freeman has been cleared to return. The former Florida State star has compiled 3,175 total yards and 27 touchdowns in his two seasons as the Falcons’ primary ball-carrier.
Depleted at receiver
Chicago wide receiver Cameron Meredith is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL in his team’s third preseason game against Tennessee. Meredith, a former undrafted free agent, led the Bears with 66 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. That means Kevin White is now Chicago’s top receiver on the depth chart, and he has a grand total of 19 catches for 187 yards in his NFL career.
That does not bode well for Bears’ quarterback Mike Glennon, who has appeared in just two games since 2014 and has half as many interceptions (15) as touchdowns (30) in his brief career. He is also facing an Atlanta defensive front that reinvented itself last season. That unit is paced by outside linebacker Vic Beasley, who led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 sacks.
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall
- 8-1 ATS in their last nine road games
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against the NFC
The Chicago Bears are:
- 0-7 ATS in their last seven September games
- 0-3-1 ATS in their last four Week 1 games
- 11-3 Over in their last 14 September games
Freeman has the green light for Atlanta, with a clean bill of health and even a new contract in hand. Chicago’s offense may not be in the same shape, mainly because Meredith is out for the year. And even at full strength, there would be no comparison between the two offensive attacks. Throw the Falcons’ ever-improving defense into the equation and they have to like their chances in this one. The Falcons are 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall, 8-1 ATS in their last nine on the road, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven against the NFC. Chicago is 0-7 ATS in its last seven in September and 0-3-1 ATS in its last four in Week 1. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons -7
Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan is the reigning NFL MVP and he will have all weapons at his disposal now that Freeman is back. If there is any good news for Chicago, it’s that Atlanta cornerback Jalen Collins is suspended for the first 10 games of the season. The over is 16-4-1 in the Falcons’ last 21 overall, 3-1-1 in their last five at home, and 12-3-1 in their last 16 against the NFC. It is also 4-1 in the Bears’ last five on grass and 11-3 in their last 14 September contests. Look for this one to go over the total.