The Los Angeles Rams (5-4) will face the Chicago Bears (4-5) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. The Rams are coming off an embarrassing 17-14 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bears are catapulting off a 20-13 win over the Detroit Lions, their first win after four consecutive losses. Now, the Rams face the Bears with a deteriorating offensive line, a huge contributor to their loss to the Steelers.
What happened in Pittsburgh?
Rams quarterback Jared Goff had little protection against Pittsburgh last Sunday. There were a few running bursts from Rams running back Todd Gurley to alleviate some of the pressure, but the offense still could not take the ball to the endzone. The defense provided the only Rams touchdown with an early first quarter fumble return by linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. Toward the end of the half, Pittsburgh capitalized on a 43-yard fumble return by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick that should have been ruled a forward pass by most accounts. Goff was hit as his arm was going forward, propelling the ball to do the same. The defense fought well, but they could only do so much. A sack resulting in a safety by defensive tackle Aaron Donald and linebacker Clay Matthews still could not set the tone for a strong offensive drive.
Goff’s performance resulted in 22 passes on 41 attempts for 243 yards and no touchdowns. He was sacked four times and gave up a fumble.
Gurley led in rushing with 12 carries for 73 yards. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp ironically had no receptions as he had double coverage throughout the game. Robert Woods led with seven catches for 95 yards. Tight end Gerald Everett and wide receiver Josh Reynolds also had a strong showing.
What to expect against the Bears?
The Rams should expect a tough defensive battle, but not nearly as tough as the Steelers. The Rams offense will continue to be challenged and Goff will need to trust his new replacements on the O-line. The new Rams starting offensive line looks like this:
LT Andrew Whitworth
LG Austin Corbett (Recently acquired from the Cleveland Browns; wasn’t starting.)
C Austin Blythe (Originally started at LG)
RG David Edwards (Rookie)
RT Bobby Evans (Rookie)
Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen are out for the season with knee injuries. Blythe was moved to center and rookies Edwards and Evans being tasked to fill the gaps. Corbett was acquired in a trade from the Browns recently. Goff and head coach Sean McVay are fully confident in their abilities. The reality though is it will be rough. Corbett, Edwards and Evans now have their feet to the fire against a strong defensive front.
Last year, the Rams could not get a touchdown and faced a defense led by linebacker Khalil Mack. Mack ended the 2018 season with 12.5 sacks. The Rams can still expect a tough battle from Mack on Sunday. This year, he has 5.5 sacks so far but is not on pace to match last season. Last Sunday, Chicago’s defense struggled against the Lions toward the end of the game.
In addition to Mack, Bears linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith lead the defense with 70 and 68 total tackles, respectively. Although, Trevathan will not play due to a serious elbow injury he suffered against the Lions. He will be replaced by Nick Kwiatkoski, who had nine tackles, a sack and an interception against Detroit. Smith was deactivated for unknown reasons before kickoff against Detroit. Defensive tackle Nick Williams leads the Bears with six sacks and has one fumble recovery. Cornerback Kyle Fuller leads with three interceptions and eight passes deflected, although corner Buster Skrine is a close runner up to Fuller. Expect Skrine or Fuller to be matched with Kupp. Kupp still leads in receiving with 58 receptions for 792 yards and five touchdowns. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has three passes deflected, two interceptions and one touchdown. The Rams can expect a tough defensive front from the Bears even with several starters out of the mix.
On offense, running back David Montgomery is questionable to start for the Bears. Running backs Tarik Cohen and Ryan Nall may be splitting carries in Montgomery’s place. Cohen has 29 carries for 77 yards and no rushing touchdowns. He has 38 receptions on 55 attempts for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Nall was activated from the practice squad and played special teams last week. Wide receiver Allen Robinson is the team leader in yardage. He has 53 receptions on 80 attempts for 618 yards and three touchdowns. Look for Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey to be matched with Robinson.
The Rams defense will be ready, they have been the gem of the team this season. Expect the Bears offense to struggle a bit considering their struggles throughout the season. Their best performance yet was against Detroit. Chicago’s offensive line has almost as many problems as the Rams’ offensive line, but in recent weeks, the Rams bear more setbacks.
Goff’s numbers are still not bad given the lack of good protection this season. His stats are superior to Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Goff has almost double the yardage with 214 completions on 355 attempts for 2,610 and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions. Trubisky has 152 completions on 239 attempts for 1,390 and eight touchdowns with three interceptions.
The Rams need this win to have any hope of making it into the playoffs. The Bears are in the same boat for their record. Even though the Rams are favored, there is still the challenge of protecting Goff with a re-tooled offensive line and minimal experience from three out of the five linemen. The Rams will also need to utilize Gurley more than ever before, if they are willing to take that step.
Kickoff is Sunday at 5:25 p.m. PT on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.