It used to be easier to view the Bears and Rams through rose-colored glasses. Before a memorable primetime matchup from last year, Sean McVay and Jared Goff were anointed as the future of professional football. Aaron Donald was, and still is, the greatest interior pass rusher the NFL has ever seen. On the opposite side, Matt Nagy had injected life into a once claw-less Bears outfit. Khalil Mack was neck and neck with Donald for defensive supremacy. And to many, Mitchell Trubisky had a bright future as a starting quarterback.
When the two met on a frigid December night, a “defensive battle” ensued (most often attributed as code for poor quarterback play). On the strength of their defense—and offensive linemen scoring touchdowns—the Bears validated themselves. They humiliated the once high-powered Rams offense. The rest morphed into some kind of orange and blue confetti en route to the first division title for the franchise since Lovie Smith, or three head coaches ago. Los Angeles would go on to lose the Super Bowl, but not before the Bears provided a blueprint for how to stymie everything the Rams once did well.
As with many aspects of the 2019 season, both franchises are through their own respective looking glasses.
Part of the reason the sheen has come off both the Bears and Rams is the spotlight on their quarterbacks. In his fourth season as a pro, Goff still requires his head coach to radio in perfect plays into his helmet headset. The 25-year-old is closer to McVay’s highly trained lapdog rather than an autonomous quarterback that can move and shake an organization for the better. There are other extenuating factors as to the Rams’ disappointing 5-4 start after an NFC Championship victory (poor offensive line play, a stretched-thin defense), but Goff sticks out like a sore thumb with a welt burned in given the construction and focal points of the Rams’ roster.
By direct contrast, one would be hard-pressed to find many who believe Trubisky can still make something of himself as a competent, let alone elite signal caller. The former No. 2 overall pick is in the midst of a nightmare third season that was supposed to be his coming-out party. Trubisky, for the most part, has regressed so much that it would be foolish of the Bears not to consider every option at quarterback once the next decade begins.
Some of the same dead weights that plague Goff plague Trubisky, like a faulty offensive front. He nevertheless deserves a lion’s share of the blame for not being able to lift a situation hand-crafted specifically for his existence.
Now two former top picks, afforded every luxury imaginable after being given the keys to their own mints, face off once more. Their teams clinging onto the faintest of playoff hopes, whoever makes the least mistakes might be the one left standing after Sunday night.
But hey, at least Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack are playing in the same game, right?
Windy City Gridiron’s staff picks for Bears-Rams.
Robert Zeglinski: Rams 16, Bears 13
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Bears 17, Rams 16
In a defensive battle this game will come down to turnovers and penalties. The Rams have been penalized more, and they turn the ball over more than the Bears.
Sam Householder: Rams 24, Bears 7
This seems like a game where suddenly the narrative next week is: Are the Rams back?
Jacob Infante: Rams 16, Bears 14
This game will be borderline unwatchable because of poor quarterback play, but I have slightly less doubt in the Rams’ offense than I do in the Bears’ unit.
Erik Duerrwaechter: Bears 16, Rams 13
This game will come down to which defense makes the biggest plays, and whichever quarterback makes the least mistakes.
Bill Zimmerman: Bears 16, Rams 13
The Bears have to stomp on the hearts of their fans one more time. That’s not happening in a spiral to a 6-10 record. That’ll only happen if the Bears get hot, win a few games, maybe push their record to 7-5, and then have the bottom fall out. That seems more fitting for the 2019 Chicago Bears.
WhiskeyRanger: Bears 17, Rams 14
Bears win off the strength of a pair of turnovers from Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller, both of whom are due.
Ken MItchell: Bears 14, Rams 10
Mitchell Trubisky may not be better than most quarterbacks in the NFL, but he’s better than Jared Goff.
Robert is wondering how much vinegar the Bears will have to use on Cam Newton’s entire rusted physical form.
WCG Contributors: Jeff Berckes; Patti Curl; Eric Christopher Duerrwaechter; Kev H; Sam Householder; Jacob Infante; Aaron Lemming; Ken Mitchell; Steven Schweickert; Jack Silverstein; EJ Snyder; Lester Wiltfong, Jr.; Whiskey Ranger; Robert Schmitz; Robert Zeglinski; Bill Zimmerman; Like us on Facebook.