Last year this was a highly anticipated game between two of the NFC’s heavyweights, but this season it’s a game between two teams struggling to stay afloat in the “In the Hunt” graphics that the networks show during games this time of year.
The Bears and Rams are in the midst of disappointing seasons, with quarterbacks that seems to have turned into pumpkins, but Sunday could change things for them.
Los Angeles Rams
SB Nation site: Turf Show Times
Game day time/TV: Sunday, 7:20 p.m., NBC
Record: 5-4 (Third in NFC North)
Last week: 17-12 loss to Pittsburgh Steelers
Bears all-time record against: 53-35-3 (1-1 postseason)
Historical match ups: The last time the Bears played a game in Los Angeles was Jan. 2, 1994.
The Bears didn’t score a touchdown, their quarterbacks, John Harbaugh and Peter Tom Willis managed to go 13 of 21 for 95 yards and an interception and managed just 163 offensive yards total.
Tom Waddle caught two passes for 26 yards in his final game.
The Bears lost 20-6 as Jerome Bettis rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown and also caught five passes for 71 yards, while quarterback T.J. Rubley threw one touchdown.
Last meeting: One of last season’s signature’s wins was the Bears’ week 14 throttling of the Rams on Sunday Night Football at Soldier Field. The Rams appeared to want no part of the 29-degree night or the Chicago defense that picked off Jared Goff four times (one each from Prince Amukamara, Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller). Akiem Hicks,Khalil Mack and Eddie Goldman also each notched a sack.
Mitch Trubisky threw three picks of his own but also the only touchdown of the game to Bradley Sowell on the fabled play “Santa’s Sleigh.”
Injury report: The Rams listed five players on their Wednesday injury report:
Limited: TE Gerald Everett (wrist), WR Brandin Cooks (concussion)
Did not participate: TE Tyler Higbee (knee), DB Darious Williams (ankle), T Rob Haverstein (knee)
Offense: The Rams come into the game ranked 10th in points and 12th in yards.
Their passing offense ranks sixth in yards and 20th in rushing yards.
Quarterback Jared Goff (60.3 cmp. pct./2,610 yds./11 TD/9 INT) is having a down year, posting the lowest QB rating (82.7), Y/A and ANY/A since his rookie season, as well as his highest interception percentage. His yards per game is at its lowest since his rookie season as well.
His weapons are Cooper Kupp (58 rec./792 yds./5 TD), Robert Woods (45/566/0), TE Gerald Everett (34/365/2) and Josh Reynolds (8/156/1).
On the ground they’re still utilizing all around threat Todd Gurley (104 att./428 yds./6 TD) but are spelling him more with Malcolm Brown (42/164/2) and rookie Darrell Henderson (33/123/0). Gurley is an all around back, adding 15 rec. for 81 yds. and a touchdown as a receiver.
Defense: The Rams defense enters the game ranked 11th in yards allowed and 15th in points allowed.
The Rams rushing defense has allowed the fifth fewest yards in the league while the passing defense is ranked 27th.
The Rams defense is led by their front seven of Aaron Donald (5.5 sacks/2 FF/13 TFL/12 QB hits), Clay Matthews (7.5/2/8/9) and Dante Fowler (6.5/1/10/9).
There’s also Cory Littleton (80 tkls/1.5 sacks/2 FF/8 PD/2 INT) and Eric Weddle (66 tkls/3 PD) making plays.
Jalen Ramsey has played only three games, but will be lurking and looking to ruin any reclamation for Mitchell Trubisky and to try and shut down Allen Robinson.
What to watch for: Not for the good quarterback play, right? How about two good defenses squaring off and trying to keep their offenses in the game.
This game is likely going to come down to a big defensive play and perhaps a defensive score.
Key match ups: On offense it’s going to be Allen Robinson vs. Ramsey. Robinson has been the Bears’ most consistent playmaker and he will need to be open and making plays for the Bears to have any amount of success in the downfield passing game.
The other key is that our struggling offensive line slows down Aaron Donald. He’s incredibly disruptive and it was a key in last year’s win at Soldier Field that the Bears were able to neutralize him. The offensive line was playing on another planet though, compared to this year.
The Rams overall have a fearsome pass rush and if the line can’t block and Mitch can’t find his hot reads, it could be a long, long night for Chicago.
On defense, the pass rush needs to ball out against a decimated offensive line. I feel like we’ve been saying that for weeks and yet nothing comes of it. The pass rush has disappeared somewhat, but now would be a good time for Khalil Mack to bust out of his slump and be the force we all know he can be.
Getting Goff uncomfortable is a huge key to the Bears getting some turnovers, giving their horrid offense a short field and getting the upset win.
Taking away his favorite target in Kupp is also vital to that success.
Key stats: Goff has been sacked eight times in the Rams’ last two losses, but zero times in their last two wins
Last season Goff and Trubisky combined for one touchdown and seven interceptions in the game. Will their play this year be even worse?
Todd Gurley has zero 100-yard games this season, last season he had six. He’s averaged more than four yards a carry just three times this season.
The Rams have 11 turnovers in their losses and just five in their wins
Los Angeles’ defense is middle-of-the-pack on third downs (38.1 percent, 15th) and in the red zone (56.7, 18th), while their offense is 22nd on third down (36.4 percent) but 15th in the red zone (59.4)
This year the Rams have been beaten by Mason Rudolph and Jameis Winston.
Can the Bears do enough to pull off the upset?