This Bears groups, particularly since Jay Cutler has joined the fray, tends to play to an odd pattern. They are quite fond of playing colossally awful games early in the season and subsequently rebounding as if nothing ever happened. I expect the same Sunday.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- They are the better team and better teams punish weaker opponents in their own building. The Bears did not open at 9.5 point favorites for no reason. Vegas knows not to overreact to a single poor performance in the national spotlight.
- I believe in a Cutler rebound game because I honestly believe he has the mentality of a good baseball closer: he puts the last game away once he hits the field. Cutler is not going to eliminate risky throws - that's how he's made his reputation both positive and negative - but I expect him to understand this passing attack needs their mojo back and he'll do everything he can to provide it.
- During Brian Schottenheimer's tenure as the offensive coordinator of the New York Jets he did not emphasize the down field passing game. (To the point that criticism of the OC dominated the WFAN airwaves for seemingly weeks at a time.) He liked to run the ball up-the-gut and hit defenses with quick strikes on the outside and under the deep coverage.
- I would not watch the first two Rams games to see how they'll attack the Bears. I would watch the shootout the Jets and Bears played the day after Christmas 2010. But that involved a heavy dose of Dustin Keller controlling the middle of the field. Now Schotty has Matthew Mulligan and if Matthew Mulligan dominates the middle of the field...Brian Urlacher is very, very injured.
- The Rams are allowing nearly 130 yards per game on the ground over the first two weeks of the season and neither the Lions nor Redskins feature particularly great running backs. The Bears will slow down St. Louis' athletic defensive ends - Robert Quinn & Chris Long - by serving the Rams a steady diet of Michael Bush and (I'd imagine) Kahlil Bell. I expect Bush to have a big time ballgame. (Note: At this point Matt Forte has not been ruled out of action.)
- I like the combination of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins at corner for the Rams but I think both are beatable over the top. The Bears, especially at home, should take a few shots.
- I think the Bears front will dominate the Rams offensive line and decide this game. 3-5 sacks and a humiliation of left tackle Wayne Hunter by the front. (If Hunter can't go I'd expect them to do the same with whomever is deemed worse than Wayne Hunter.)
NEW FEATURE ALERT!
Each week in the preview I'll name a Bear I think will thrive Sunday and a Bear I think will survive Sunday. Thrive/Survive, I call it.
- Thrive: Shea McClellin. I think his speed will eat up Hunter on the left side as Shea announces his arrival to the Bears faithful.
- Survive: Charles Tillman. The Bears tend to let their corners play sides of the field and I'd expect the Rams to keep Danny Amendola away from Tim Jennings - just about the hottest corner in the game currently. That means Peanut will be chasing Amendola's speed all evening long.
This just feels like the kind of game the Bears win. At home. Inferior opponent. Coming off a loss. Extra rest.
Chicago Bears 24, St. Louis Rams 13
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