Chicago Bears vs. St. Louis Rams game preview

Chicago Bears vs. St. Louis Rams game preview
Jay Cutler heads back home, looking for a bounce-back game - Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

Every defensive line in the League would love an opportunity to play the Chicago Bears right now. The fact that Jay Cutler has made it clear to the NFL world just how tired he is of getting sacked makes it all the more tantalizing a proposition.

The Bears’ offensive line is in desperate need of a bounce-back performance against the Rams this week, and so is QB Jay Cutler. So, how do they ease the pressure? Run the football early and run it often. The Bears will be without Matt Forte on Sunday, but Michael Bush should be itching to prove to Chicago that he’s a legit first-option back.

While the Rams will look to pressure the Bears’ offensive front, they don’t boast the pass rush of the Packers (Green Bay has 11 sacks through two games, St. Louis has two). But Rams’ LDE Chris Long is still one of the better ends in the League, and sacks or not, he will pressure the QB.

The rams are currently 1-1, like the Bears, having played two close games thus far. So, while drawing the Rams at home in week three may look like an apparent win for Chicago, the group from St. Louis looks to be a tougher opponent than initially anticipated. I do think the Bears can and will win the game, and here’s how they’ll do it . . .

Let’s start with the Bears’ offense:

Jay Cutler has been known to have the type of game he had against the Packers last week—a bad one. But he’s also been known to bounce back. The key to the Bears’ offense this time around is to protect the football and protect Jay Cutler. The best way to do that is get back to basics and establish the run by not abandoning it.

It’s sometimes been the Bears’ M.O. to shift away from the run game too early. Don’t get discouraged just because you don’t have ground success immediately. If you fail to commit to the run game, you won’t have one. The Rams’ defense is currently giving up 5.5 yards per carry, tied for most in the League with only the Cincinnati Bengals.

St. Louis likes to play a coverage scheme similar to the Bears’, and they limit big plays down the field. The Bears have to challenge them at the line of scrimmage with the run game and work the seam in the passing game. Look for the explosive play off play action. As I said before, and most important of all, protect the football.

Switching sides to the Bears’ defense:

The Bears aren’t the only team with issues at the left tackle position. At least not the only team this week. The Rams’ starting left tackle Rodger Saffold has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a knee injury, and his backup, Wayne Hunter, is questionable with an ankle injury. The Bears have to exploit this advantage and get after Sam Bradford.

While Rams’ offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer would also like to run the football against the Bears’ defense, running back Steven Jackson is questionable with a groin injury. Speculation is that Jackson will play, but with a painful groin injury, on the road, there’s no telling how effective he’ll be.

All this leaves the Rams with few imposing options against a tough Bears’ defense; exactly why the Chicago offense should be able to take a more conservative approach. Of course, things never go the way they look they will on paper, but this is a win I think Chicago should be able to put under their belt with relative ease.

Oh yeah, and the Bears’ special teams need to be . . . more special this week.

How about some nuggets?

  • The Bears and Rams have met 88 times previously with Chicago holding a 51-34-3 edge, including the last three overall. The Monsters of the Midway hold a 29-14-2 edge over the Rams franchise in games played in Chicago.
  • The Rams are the first of four NFC West opponents for the Bears this year, who  also travel to San Francisco for a Monday night tilt in Week 11 (Nov. 19) and then host  the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13 (Dec. 2). Chicago wraps up its NFC West slate in Week 16 at Arizona (Dec. 23).
  • Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher was drafted by the Bears in 1981 and played five seasons with the club.
  • Sunday will mark the first time Bears’ WR Brandon Marshall will play the St. Louis Rams in his seven-year career—the only team in the League he has not faced.
  • The Chicago Bears are averaging 33 points per game at home over the last two seasons in games Jay Cutler has started at quarterback and are 6-1.

Early Draft report:

By the way, how are GM Phil Emery's first two draft picks doing through the first two weeks of the season? Better than just about every player selected before them in the same position . . .

21 defensive ends were selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, and Chicago Bears’ rookie Shea McClellin leads all of them in sacks through the first two games of the season with 1.5. The only other players to make it on the list were Bruce Irvin (0.5) and Chandler Jones (1). Quinton Coples and Whitney Mercilus each have zero.

As for rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, he currently leads all receivers selected before him with four receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown, save for Stephen Hill who has five reception for 89 yards and two TDs. Justin Blackmon checks in with three receptions for just 24 yards, and Michael Floyd has yet to make it on the stat sheet. Kendall Wright has seven receptions—three more than Jeffery—but only 61 yards and a TD.

Official prediction: Bears 24, Rams 17

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