Overview: In some ways, these two teams are mirror images of one another: outstanding defenses, offensive challenges, and disappointing seasons. Either team would probably have almost to win out to have any hope of making the playoffs. We do not think the Chicago Bears are heading for the postseason, and the Los Angeles Rams face an uphill fight at this point and look like a long shot as well, especially given their schedule
Rams Offense vs. Bears Defense: The Rams offense was just awful last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it will not get any easier for them. They start Bobby Evans, a rookie out of Oklahoma, at right tackle, where he will be assigned the job of containing Khalil Mack. The good news for the Rams is that Mack is having an off-year. The bad news is that he is still Khalil Mack, starting against a rookie that was inactive until recently and who did not look good in the pre-season. Matters worse, all three Rams tight ends--Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, and Johnny Mundt-- listed as questionable. The Rams O-line, in general, has been a disaster area this season, and the loss of center Brian Allen (out for the year) and right tackle Rob Havenstein for the Bears game does not help matters. Just in case we thought it could not get worse, center/guard Austin Blythe did not practice on Friday due to a stomach ailment. The team is optimistic that he will play, but who knows.
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp, by the way, was suffering from the same condition and was also listed as "questionable."
Will the Rams go ground and pound? They may have to if they want Jared Goff to survive this game. One of the mysteries of last week's Steelers loss is why Sean McVay stopped using Todd Gurley in the fourth quarter? Gurley looked like the Gurley of old, notching 73 yards rushing and a six-yards per carry average through three quarters, and then the Rams stopped using him. The problem this week, of course, is that the poor state of the O-line may mean whether the running is Gurley, Darrell Henderson, or Malcolm Brown, there may not be anywhere to run.
Did we mention wide receiver Brandin Cooks is out?
The Rams offense scored three points against the Steelers last week. We hope they can somehow put 10 points up against the Bears. Anything more than 14 from them would probably be considered an offensive explosion. We can always hope.
Rams Defense vs. Bears Offense: So, after reading the last segment, we might assume that we think the Rams do not have a chance in this game. That assumption would be incorrect, only because the Bears offense has been sputtering all season. The Bears is a team that gained 9--count them, 9--yards in the first half against the Eagles a couple of weeks ago.
The Bears play has been so awful, that quarterback Mitch Trubisky demanded that all televisions and radios at team headquarters be turned off. It was to mute and not hear the negative commentary about the team, the general manager, and Trubinsky personally. It is hard to believe the Bears took Trubisky ahead of MVP candidate and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (among others) a couple of years ago.
Can we say Ryan Leaf, boys, and girls?
While the Bears offense is not as injury-plagued as the Rams going into this game, they will be missing both tight ends, Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen. Running back David Montgomery, one of the few relatively bright spots in this unit, is listed as questionable.
The Bears with an upset win against the Rams last season kept Aaron Donald under control; by double and even triple-teaming him. That is not unusual for AD, but unlike many other teams, the Bears were able to make it work. However, the Rams defense is probably better than they were then, and edge rusher Dante Fowler is a big reason why. His fumble recovery last week against the Steelers was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal game for Los Angeles. Fowler has been looking like the former number-one draft pick (of the Jaguars) he once was. Fellow outside linebacker Clay Matthews has likewise been playing well, meaning that if the Bears load up on Donald, they could be asking for trouble. Throw in inside linebacker Corey Littleton and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and this is a very talented unit.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy hired before last season as the Bears Head Coach based on a reputation as an offensive genius. As with Rams coach Sean McVay, this game will test that reputation.
Just in case we are wondering, the last time an NFL game ended in a 0-0 tie was back in 1943 as the Giants and Lions achieved that dubious distinction.
Special Teams: The Bears continue to be plagued by placekicking woes after losing a playoff game against the Eagles last year on a missed field goal attempt. They have changed kickers, but it continues to be a problem area. The Rams special teams have been erratic, including a botched fake punt last week against the Steelers. They still get the edge this week.
Prediction: Oddsmakers are picking the Rams by 6.5, which means they think someone will score some points. The Rams are at home, and if both teams were healthy would stand a good chance of covering that spread. This is a Rams blog, and we are Ram fans, so...
Rams 13 Bears 10