by Bryan Dietzler
The 4-5 Chicago Bears, fresh off a nice 20-13 win over division rival Detroit will take on the 5-4 Los Angeles Rams this Sunday on Sunday night football. The Rams lost a close one to the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-12. Los Angeles will be looking to get back on track while the Bears will want to continue their winning ways and help their slim chances of making the playoffs.
These two teams met last year, and the Bears were able to put the clamps on the Rams offense and get past their defense. This is a different Bears team now, but they just might be able to win this game. They have a chance and we are going to see why they do.
The following is a look at the Bears versus the Rams game coming up this Sunday night. We will look at the numbers and try to determine who will win based on that. Can the Bears win this game and keep their slim hopes of reaching the playoffs alive?
Bears on Offense
The Bears offense was a bit better in their game against Detroit but there were going against one of the worst defenses in the league. The Bears struggled during the first half of the game but picked things up and won albeit not comfortably or as comfortably as they should have.
Chicago still struggled to pass and running the ball on Sunday against the Lions but, despite the fact they struggled, they did look at least a little better in the passing game. Their numbers, overall, haven’t increased much because of that game but they are a bit better.
Chicago has been gaining an average of 262.2 yards per game which is 29th in the league. Being near the bottom of the NFL on offense hasn’t helped the Bears cause out any but they have still managed four wins. Most of that has to do with their defense.
The Bears have been a creature of habit lately. They have started slow the last few games during this losing streak and don’t get going until later on in the game. It’s hard to tell why this is so. Maybe Head Coach Matt Nagy’s play-calling gets better as the game goes on. Maybe the Bears can read defenses better and are a little bit better acclimated to the game as it goes on.
If games were five quarters, the Bears might be undefeated.
When it comes to points scored. The Bears are getting just 18 per game which is 27th in the league. The Rams are allowing teams to score an average of 21.2 points which is 15th in the league. They are giving up 331 yards per game which ranks 11th. The Bears offense can’t put up those kinds of numbers, at least not based on what we have seen the last few weeks, so we will see how they do against the Rams.
Chicago’s passing attack is led by the much-beleaguered Mitchell Trubisky. Under his guidance, the Bears are averaging 181.7 yards per game which is 30th in the league. Not any good at all is it? Chicago must to something to improve their ability to pass the ball and get those critical yards through the air. They started to come alive a little bit last week against the Lions. Can they do that against the Rams this week?
The Rams pass defense is giving up 240.2 yards per game which is 17th in the league. Not too bad overall and with a Bears team that has trouble throwing the ball, it may be much easier for the Rams defense. We will see how Trubisky and company can do against the Rams in this one. If the Bears can move the ball through the air even at least a little bit effectively, they will have a shot at winning this game.
The running game is a huge key to any offensive attack. Many teams use it to set up play-action passes which can go for long gains. It’s worked for the Bears before and it can work again. They just need to run the ball effectively to set those play-action passes up.
Perhaps the biggest problem in the Bears’ rushing attack is that they don’t run the ball enough. As of this writing, they are ranked 28th in the league rushing for just 80.6 yards per game. The Bears need to run the ball to win this game. I would look for them to try to get some yards on the ground against the Rams this Sunday.
However, the problem with them being able to get yards on the ground on Sunday night is that they are going up against one of the league’s highest-rated rush defenses. The Rams are allowing just 90.8 yards on the ground which is sixth in the league. The Bears’ rushing game is already a meager thing, will it be rendered even more meager this Sunday night?
If the Bears can control the ball, they can win this game. They just need to get those proper plays called and play to their strengths which, right now, are hard to determine. But perhaps this could be a breakout game for the Bears’ offense.
We can only hope it is.
Bears on Defense
The Chicago Bears defense had a bit of a struggle against the Detroit Lions’ second-string quarterback last Sunday. They will have to step it up and play better this Sunday against the Rams. Luckily, it appears as if Jared Goff, the Rams quarterback, is regressing a bit so the Bears may be able to take advantage of this.
Chicago’s defense hasn’t been a world-beater by any means and it’s not like it was last year. Several factors have contributed to their decline. For one, they aren’t getting the turnovers that they had gotten before. And the offense hasn’t helped them out that much because the defense is on the field so much more. Then they start to wear out because of that.
If only the offense could go on some long, sustained drives, that would help the defense out.
When we look at the total points allowed per game, the Bears are allowing teams to score an average of 17.4. That’s good for 4th in the NFL. But what is deceiving about this is that the Bears offense isn’t scoring enough points to help get them the win. The Bears defense is doing it’s part, at least most of its part, while the offense continues to be a problem.
The Rams offense is scoring 25.1 points per game which is 10th in the NFL. They have had their struggles recently and some are saying that they are on the decline. We will see if the Bears can continue to assist them in their fall from grace or if the Rams have a resurgence against the Bears and are back with a vengeance.
Goff and his passing crew are averaging 279.6 yards per game through the air which is good for 6th in the league. The Bears’ defense has had its problems against the pass as of late and is currently ranked 15th giving up 233.3 yards per game. This is because their pass rush has suddenly broken and they aren’t getting to the quarterback as often as they should. The need to start getting more pass pressure.
The nice thing for the Bears is that Los Angeles doesn’t have a big running game that they can lean on. They are averaging 96.2 yards per game which is 20th in the league. The Bears are allowing teams to rush for 94 yards per game which is 9th. It’s possible the Bears could shut down the rushing game for the Rams and force them to pass the ball. Maybe then the Bears’ pass rush will get going.
Total yards for the Rams have them getting 378.8 per game which is 12th in the league. The Bears defense is ninth in yards allowed allowing 327.3.
The defense needs to step it up and play better. If they can’t, the Rams are going to destroy the Bears.
Eddie Pinero has had his bad moments with kicks this year but is still a good option right now. The Bears may have to rely on him a lot in this game especially if it’s close. Pat O’Donnell’s punting left a little something to be desired last week but overall, he’s been strong. The return game needs to get something going to help this team out whether it’s good field position or a runback for a score. The shorter the field the better off the Bears are.
Matt Nagy is going up against Sean McVay and we should remember that Nagy got the best of McVay last year. However, Nagy was doing better, as were the Bears, and calling all the right plays. This year, he’s struggling. I think it’s a draw when it comes right down to it, between these two. I think that they are both on equal footing but McVay may have an advantage in play calling.
The following are the players that are listed as injured (as of this Wednesday) heading into the game.
Isaiah Irving-LB-Quad-Has not practiced.
Trey Burton-TE-Calf-On IR.
Danny Trevathan-LB-Elbow-Has not practiced.
Adam Shaheen-Foot-Did not practice.
David Montgomery-RB-Ankle-Was limited in practice but may miss Sunday’s game.
Los Angeles Rams
Rob Havenstein-T-Knee-Did not practice.
Darious Williams-DB-Ankle-Did not practice.
Tyler Higbee-TE-Knee-Did not practice.
Brandon Cooks-WR-Concussion-Was limited in practice.
Gerald Everett-TE-Wrist-Was limited in practice.
This is going to be a much closer game than some might think. It’s possible, that with a little luck and a whole lot of hard work, the Bears could end up winning. But they would need to play a near-perfect game to win this one. It’s going to be close, but the Bears are going to come up just short and walk away with a loss.