8:30 PM ET, December 18, 2005
Atlanta (8-5) at Chicago (9-4) Sunday 8:30 pm EST
CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Michael Vick has picked the wrong week to be nursing an injury.
Vick was injured in the fourth quarter of Monday night's 36-17 victory over New Orleans. Coach Jim Mora said he expects Vick to be ready for this contest.
"Mike is a trooper, he's a tough kid," Mora said. "Mike doesn't miss games. He'll do whatever it takes to get ready to go."
Waiting for Vick will be the NFL's top-ranked defense led by middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who has a history of containing the NFL's fastest quarterback.
In two career games against the Falcons with Vick at the helm, Urlacher has collected 15 tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
The Bears' defense also may be in a feisty mood after allowing 190 yards rushing in a 21-9 loss to Pittsburgh that snapped an eight-game winning streak.
Against the Steelers, the Bears allowed at least 20 points for the third time this season. Chicago still ranks first overall, allowing 11.4 points per game.
After their defensive struggles last week, the Bears face a Falcons team that ranks first in rushing offense at 173.2 yards per game.
Chicago still holds a one-game lead over Minnesota in the NFC North and could clinch its first playoff berth since 2001 with a win and losses by the New York Giants and Dallas this weekend.
The Falcons are fighting for their playoff lives. They are tied with Dallas and Minnesota for the second wild card spot but slipped just one game behind first-place Tampa Bay and Carolina in the NFC South.
Atlanta does control its own destiny with games at Tampa Bay and at home against Carolina in the next two weeks.
Vick ran for two touchdowns and passed for 231 yards and a score in the win over the Saints.
The Bears will be looking for more production from rookie quarterback Kyle Orton, who has failed to throw a touchdown pass the last two games. The fourth-round pick out of Purdue has the lowest rating (60.9) among starters.
Matchup to watch: Bears wide receiver Muhsin Muhmmad, who had a season-high eight catches for 91 yards last week, will likely be shadowed by cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
Series: The Bears lead, 11-10. The teams have not met here since 1993.
Next week: Atlanta visits Tampa Bay, December 24 Chicago visits Green Bay, December 25
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Vick may meet match
This is a big game with serious playoff implications. After the Falcons Monday night win over New Orleans, they are still a game back in the NFC South standings to Tampa Bay and Carolina, with a closing schedule that leaves no margin for error. Chicago, on the other hand, has looked like a lock for the NFC North for most of the season, but now has the resurgent Vikings on its tail.
Michael Vick has sore ribs, but if he's ready to go, it will be a fascinating matchup between him and the Bears' active defense. They are one of the few units in the NFL capable of handling him. On the other side of the ball, the Bears continue to rely on the run game. Run defense is the most glaring weakness of the Falcons. These teams will battle for their playoff lives, and watching the Chicago's defense try to slow down this Atlanta offense will be a lot of fun.
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|Avg Points Allowed||19.3||10.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||ATL|
|Rush Yds Allowed||ATL|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Chicago leads 3-0|
|Sep 15, 2002||ATL 13, CHI 14|
|Oct 7, 2001||ATL 3, CHI 31|