When you are sitting at 4-7 there isn't a lot that can put your team in a good mood, but taking on the worse off 1-10 St. Louis Rams could be a good start. If things go as they have all year the Bears should be able to win. They lose to the real good teams and beat the real bad teams. However if the flip side occurs and the Bears actually get dropped by the hapless Rams, in Chicago no less, then it could be a start to the end of season house cleaning many fans want.
Week 12 Recap
The Rams: Seattle running back Justin Forsett had a career day in St. Louis last week with two tuddy's and 130 yards rushing as the Seahawks won 27-17. The Rams actually out gained Seattle 364 to 265, but that Seattle D picked up 4 sacks and 2 picks. Ram QB Kyle Boller (yes the former bust out with the Ravens) threw for his third most yards ever, 282, and hit 10 different receivers while doing it. He also added 26 yards on the ground. A less that 100% Steven Jackson still racked up 89 yards rushing and chipped in with 5 grabs out of the backfield for 29 yards.
The Bears: Chicago looked like a Sophomore team trying to take on the Varsity. The Vikings whipped up on the Bears in every possible way winning 36-10, and it wasn't even that close. Brett Favre had one of the better days of his stellar career and Jarred Allen's 2 sacks led the Viking D to a dominating performance. Here are the ugly final yardage totals, Minnesota 537 - Chicago 169, and don't forget the Bears only had 2 yards of total offense in the second half. U-G-L-Y.
- 20: A career high (so far) interceptions for Jay Cutler.
- 8: Number of interceptions the Rams defense has picked off so far this year.
- 7: Turnovers by Kyle Boller in just 4 games played.
- 6: Charles Tillman leads the league with 6 forced fumbles this year.
STL - RB Steven Jackson - Questionable (Back) Likely will play
STL - FB Mike Karney - Questionable (Neck)
STL - OT Jason Smith - Out (Concussion)
CHI - OLB Lance Briggs - Out (Knee)
CHI - LT Orlando Pace - Out (Groin)
CHI - Desmond Clark - Questionable (Neck)
CHI - Charles Tillman - Probable (Concussion) Likely will play
When the Rams have the ball.
Steven Jackson, Steven Jackson, and more Steven Jackson. Jackson leads the team in rushing and receptions and the Rams look to get him the ball as much as possible. Look for QB Kyle Boller to target Jackson early to try and get his confidence up.
The key match-up for the Rams: Rams OL vs. Bears DL
The Rams offensive line should welcome back starting guard Richie Incognito and center Jason Brown. If the interior of the Ram line is able to neutralize the Bears DT's look for them to methodically pound the 231 pound Jackson inside all day. With the way the Rams defense has been playing controlling the clock is their best chance at a win.
The X factor on offense for the Rams: QB Kyle Boller
As I mentioned above Boller tossed for his third most yards ever, if the Rams are able to establish the run, their play-actions and roll outs could give the Bears fits. Boller is a mobile QB and won't hesitate to take off and pick up what he can.
When the Bears have the ball.
The Rams have given up the fifth most total yards and are fifth worst against the rush (148.5 per game), so I would expect the Bears to try and get the run game going. After only 8 rushing attempts against the Vikings last week the Bears have to try and get it going vs. the Rams. Matt Forte rushed for 139 yards last year in St. Louis, his most as a pro, and should be a big part of the offensive game plan this week. Jay Cutler has played much better at home this year, but the Bears should allow him to easy into the game this week. And for the love of God, could we not see the wide receiver screen this week?
The key match-up for the Bears: RT Kevin Shaffer vs. DE Leonard Little
I alluded to this match up in my preview I did on the Sporting News, so it makes sense to bring it to light here as well. The Bears picked a heck of a week to plug Shaffer in at RT. Little is the best pass rusher the Rams have with 5.5 sacks on the year (and 86.5 on his career), but Shaffer played mostly right tackle in Cleveland so it isn't new to him.
The X Factor on offense for the Bears: QB Jay Cutler
Can someone of the stature of Cutler be an X Factor? I'm not sure, but he is this week... Since I had Boller as the X Factor for St. Louis why not throw Cutler in there for Chicago? The only way I see the Rams having a chance this week is if Cutler allows them, with a few more interceptions. Play in the system, take what is given to you, and run when some open field presents itself. I can see another unsatisfying win just like the Cleveland game, but at this point the Bears will take any win they can get.
Side notes from the NFC North:
Vikings: Sunday Night Football and a trip to Arizona, this may be the last team on the schedule that could trip up the Vikings.