I’ll be doing a new weekly column this season where I’ll pick a series of propositional wagers for each Bears game. This is strictly just for fun as I don’t see myself getting all that many correct, but it’ll give extra insight into how I see the game playing out.
First team to score
Bears. I expect that the Bears will either lose the coin toss, or if they win it, they’ll defer. Either way, I see them starting out on defense and pinning the Falcons deep in their own end of the field. The defense will hold and the Bears offense will get good field position after a punt.
First Bears player to score
Robbie Gould. I’d love to see the Bears offense drive down the field and put the ball in the end zone. If you remember last year’s opener against the Lions, they sustained a long drive on their first possession but had to settle for a field goal. I see something similar to that in this game.
First Bears player to catch a pass
Roy Williams. My belief is Williams will be the first player targeted. All kidding aside, whether or not he’ll catch the ball is the question. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Bears player to catch most passes
Matt Forte. This is a tough one because I truly believe Williams will be heavily involved in the game plan, Johnny Knox will catch his fair share of passes, and Earl Bennett will be a clutch third-down receiver again. But I think Forte’s receptions out of the backfield will be plentiful. On the flip side, Devin Hester is my pick for least number of receptions.
More passing yards – Jay Cutler or Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan. While I expect big things from Cutler this season in his second year in the offense, I also feel that the Bears will be out to a lead at some point and will run the ball more. I think the Falcons will be trying to sling the ball all over the field considering the Bears had one of the top run defenses a year ago.
More touchdown passes or interceptions by Jay Cutler
Touchdowns. I think it’ll be 2-to-1 touchdowns-to-interceptions. Cutler ought to protect the ball better this year, but the Falcons defense was among the league’s best last year at picking off passes, so he’ll probably throw at least one.
More rushing yards – Matt Forte or Michael Turner
Matt Forte. As previously mentioned, the Bears had one of the best run defenses in the league last year and I think that trend will continue. With Marion Barber hurt, I can’t see Kahlil Bell stepping in and taking away too many carries from Forte. I think the Bears will also play with the lead at some point and Forte will have a nice game.
Total combined rushing and receiving yards by Matt Forte
120. I expect Forte to be the focus of the offense and will catch a lot of passes in addition to his rushing yardage. I could see somewhere in the neighborhood of 90-100 rushing yards and 20-30 receiving yards.
Team to win the turnover battle
Bears. We didn’t see many takeaways from the Bears defense in the preseason, but that doesn’t always tell you much, if anything. The Falcons had 22 interceptions, fourth-most in the league in 2010, so there could be some risk there, but I see the Bears taking the edge in this battle at home in the season opener.
Total points scored
40. The Bears generally play well in season openers and although the Falcons had the fifth-highest scoring offense in the league a year ago, I think the Bears will keep them in check.