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Falcons-Bears matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Sept. 07, 2011 @ 5:51 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week One game between the Falcons and Bears:

Falcons' receivers vs. Bears' secondary

Atlanta made a bold move in the draft, trading up 21 spots in the first round to select Julio Jones sixth overall, and the Falcons expect him to make a significant contribution right away.

With Jones and Roddy White, the Falcons have one of the top WR tandems in the league. TE Tony Gonzalez is past his prime but still effective. There's a potential weapon in the slot, too, with Harry Douglas fully recovered from a 2009 ACL tear. It's expected that offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey will give QB Matt Ryan more opportunities to take shots down the field this season — the Falcons made their aggressive move in the draft to become more explosive through the air, so Bears safeties Chris Harris, Major Wright and Brandon Meriweather are likely to be challenged over the top.

There are a lot of weapons for the Bears to track, but they should be used to doing that having held their ground very well against the pass-first Packers and their deep arsenal of targets three times last season.

Jones and White are physical, have good size and will not go down without a battle. The Bears have a physical group in their secondary as well, but LCB Tim Jennings, at 5-foot-8, and nickel corner D.J. Moore, who stands 5-foot-9, are going to be at a significant height disadvantage when covering the 6-foot White or the 6-3 Jones. RCB Charles Tillman, who stands 6-foot2, on the other hand, has the height and length to be very disruptive against Atlanta.

Ryan is going to have room to make his share of completions, as the Bears are still primarily a cover-2 defense. It will be critical for members of the Bears' secondary to wrap up receivers and tackle well.

It will be a challenge, though, against tough, highly competitive targets like Jones and White.

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