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Pleased to Meet You: Week 12, St. Louis Rams

The Bears pulled themselves back into the division's reach with a win on Sunday; they may well have a chance to take the lead this week. We're previewing this week's opponent, the St. Louis Rams.

Andy Lyons

The days of backup quarterback spelling doom for the Bears' season appear to have fallen by the wayside, as Josh McCown's been exceptional in his two-plus games called into duty. And with Jay Cutler out for at least another week (and maybe more), McCown will get his third start of the year in St. Louis this weekend.

Last Year: 7-8-1 (yes, one tie, against the 49ers), which is good for third place in last year's NFC West. For what it's worth, they were 11-5 in Vegas, so at least in Vegas they were in the playoffs.

This Year: 4-6, currently good for last place in the NFC West. They're coming off a 38-8 smackdown of the Indianapolis Colts.

When Last We Met: Last year's 7-8-1 record does include a contest against the Bears, as the Bears beat the Rams at Soldier Field 23-6. Greg Zuerlein kicked two field goals, but the Bears got three from Robbie Gould as well as an interception return touchdown from Major Wright and a rushing score from Michael Bush (remember him?).

Total Yards:
3165 (27th)
Total Points: 224 (19th)
Passing Yardage: 2171 (21st)
Rushing Yardage: 994 (22nd)

The Rams are in their own backup quarterback place, having had to place Sam Bradford on injured reserve this year. Which is kind of a shame, because Bradford wasn't having an awful season - it just didn't help he doesn't have too many people to throw to. Chris Givens and Jared Cook are leading this Rams team in receiving, and neither of them have hit the 500 yard plateau just yet. Even with Tavon Austin's great game last time out against the Colts, he still only had 345 yards receiving on the year, and Brian Quick is in that range too. It might be more accurate to say they have weapons and they try to use them all, but it just leads to an upper-20s-ranked offense that isn't that effective at moving the ball.

Enter Kellen Clemens, who in four games (three starts) has a 53.5 completion percentage with 3 touchdowns and two interceptions. Compare to McCown's own 60.4 completion percentage with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions. It's worth noting Clemens has a higher yards-per-completion than McCown, though that might be small-sample-size colored by Austin's day.

You can also look at the rushing tandem of Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson (and I think we can ignore Isaiah Pead at this point, as last year's second round pick has seven carries in four games this year, and isn't appearing on injured reserve unless I'm missing something). Richardson's nursing an injury, but Stacy's got the team's lone three rushing touchdowns and a 4.2 yards-per-attempt.

Total Yardage:
3518 (19th)
Total Points: 234 (14th)
Passing Yardage: 2373 (14th)
Rushing Yardage: 1145 (18th)

The Rams' defense is a weird thing. Against the pass, their about-average stats are betrayed by the second-fewest passing attempts faced, which leads to the 25th ranked net yards-per-attempt. That's not a good thing. Neither are their 11 rushing touchdowns allowed on the season, nor the overall 5.7 yards per play allowed.

But, there are two things this unit does well. They have 19 turnovers generated, which is a top-ten turnovers-generating defense (number eight). They've gotten picks from nine players on the season, with Alec Ogletree picking up a 98-yard touchdown, and Matt Giordano (who?) snagged himself an 82-yarder. They also have 32 sacks on the year, which isn't quite Baltimore Ravens-esque, but it's right there. 18.5 of those sacks come from Robert Quinn (12.0) and Chris Long (6.5), with the odd contribution from Michael Brockers, William Hayes and Kendall Langford. Quinn's also got five forced fumbles on the year, and Chris Long has recovered two, returning one 45 yards for a score.

If the Bears do this...

The Rams' secondary is a decent ball-hawking group - I don't like that combined with Josh McCown's overall career entering the season, as he's still not back to 1-1 in TDs to INTs for his career. So we'll go with Matt Forte - last week Forte had 83 yards rushing to go with 42 receiving yards and a touchdown, and in McCown's first start Forte had 125 yards with a touchdown. Forte will get some use this week, and he'll need to come through.

If the Rams do this...

I fully expect Zac Stacy to go for 150 yards this week (26 carries each of the last three games, and two of those above 125 yards).

Closing Thoughts:

The Bears' defense has held the last three opponents to 20~21 points, and they get another offense not operating at full capacity, so maybe there's another good outing in them.