The Bears have been getting a lot of flack nationally for continuing to “win ugly,” and to win despite putrid offensive numbers, and continue to get an overall narrative of “this luck is going to run out.”
It seems like all the national doubters continue to pick against the Bears and week-in and week-out pick the Bears to lose and the Bears keep on winning and proving everyone wrong, but get no more love.
Now they hit the road for a second straight week and go to Los Angeles to play the Rams. On paper it looks like a match up between two good teams and it seems like a lot of people, from oddsmakers to pundits think the Bears are going to get revealed.
But are we really sure that the Rams are good?
When you pull back the curtain, even just a little, there’s some questions there. The Rams won all four of their game against the NFC East, which is undeniably the worst division in the league and is led by a team that is (checks standings) 2-4. They’ve lost their two games outside of the NFC East, a shootout with the Buffalo Bills and a game that wasn’t as close as the final score Sunday night to the San Francisco 49ers.
So is this a battle of the frauds? Will we have a better idea of who is the contender and who is pretender after Monday? I have my doubts that any of those debates will be settled, but it should be a close game.
I hope America hates offensive football and scoring because there’s not been much of it when these teams get together.
SB Nation site: Turf Show Times
Record: 4-2, second in the NFC West
Last week: 24-16 loss to the 49ers
Game day, time, TV: Monday, 7:15 p.m. CT, ESPN
Bears all-time record against: 54-37-3 including postseason
Historical meetings: The last time the Bears met the Rams on Monday Night Football it was week 14 of the 2006 season. Oh yes...
The 10-2 Bears met the 5-7 Rams in St. Louis. The Rams jumped out to a second quarter lead with Torry Holt catching a touchdown. If you remember, rookie Devin Hester was playing cornerback and he got beat on the play.
Hester came back and returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.
The Bears and Rams then traded blows for the rest of the half, with the Rams’ Steven Jackson scoring and Bernard Berrian catching a pass for another touchdown.
It was a different story in the second half though, as the Bears scored twice in the third and once early in the fourth.
Then Torry Holt answered back, catching another touchdown from Marc Bulger and Hester once again returned the ensuing kickoff, this time 96 yards for a touchdown.
The Bears won 42-27.
Last meeting: Week 11, last season. The 4-5 Bears went to Los Angeles to meet the 5-4 Rams on Sunday night football.
Mitch Trubisky got knocked around and it ended up being the “did he/didn’t he get benched” game. Chase Daniel relived the battered Trubisky on Chicago’s final drive and the Chicago sports media world exploded.
Matt Nagy would say afterward it was an injury.
The Bears lost 17-7.
Offense: The Rams offense comes in ranked 19th in points and 10th in yards.
Their passing offense ranks 15th while their rushing offense ranks 10th.
Jared Goff (67.4 pct. cmp./1,570 yds./10 TD/4 INT) is leading the offense in his usual way, that is to say well but not necessarily dominant. He’s a quarterback that will make the plays in front of him but can be rattled and won’t put the fear in you that he’s going to take a game over very often.
Weapons? This offense has a few, starting with WRs Cooper Kupp (31 rec./374 yds./2 TD) and Robert Woods (27/329/3), TE Tyler Higbee (18/222/3), receiver Josh Reynolds (14/226/1) and TE Gerald Everett (11/168/0).
On the ground they have two backs that can serve as dual purpose with second-year man Darrell Henderson (72 car./348 yds./3 TD) and Malcolm Brown (55/217/2) who also have seven and 12 catches, respectively.
Rookie Cam Akers (26/113/0) is getting some carries too.
Defense: The Rams defense comes in ranked fifth in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed.
Their passing defense ranks fourth and their rushing defense 11th.
It all starts with Aaron Donald (7.5 sks/6 TFL/14 QB hits/2 FF) who is a one man wrecking crew and will test the Bears’ offensive line.
Former Bear Leonard Floyd (2 sks/4 TFL/6 QB hits) faces off against the team that drafted him. S John Johnson (46 tkls/4 PD/1 INT) leads the Rams in tackles, while CB Darious Williams (2 INT/5 PD/17 tkls) leads in interceptions.
Key match ups: First and foremost has to be Aaron Donald vs. the Bears offensive line. Obviously, the Bears line has struggled mightily the last couple of weeks and it’s clearly their weakest offensive position, arguably moreso than quarterback even.
If the line can’t create running lanes or give a clean pocket for Nick Foles, then it’s going to be a long night for the Bears.
On defense, get after Jared Goff. When he’s uncomfortable, he’s a completely different quarterback. Make him react quickly and throw quickly and he will make mistakes.
Slow down their run game and don’t let them get their play action going. Turn them into a one-dimensional offense.
The Bears will need to score early in this one though so that Donald and Co. can’t just tee off on the pass. Nagy needs to balance his playcalling as well.
Key stats: In the last two meetings between these two teams, both under Matt Nagy and Sean McVay, two offensive gurus, the teams have combined for a total of 45 points.
Jared Goff, in two career games against Chicago has thrown zero touchdowns and five interceptions. He completed 50 percent of his passes and has a 44.5 quarterback rating.
The Bears have 12 wins on Monday Night Football since 2010, tied with the most wins on MNF with the Saints. Overall they’re 12-5 in that time frame on MNF
In their wins this season (again, all against the NFC East), the Rams have averaged 26 points on offense and allowed just 13.7 points per game. In their two losses that flips to 24 points scored and 29.5 allowed per game.
The Rams offense has turned the ball over at least once every game this season
The Rams are 20th in the league in red zone percentage
Which defense has the advantage? Do you think the Bears can score enough to win? Will the winning team break 17 points?