It will be another primetime meeting this Sunday night as the Chicago Bears host the Los Angeles Rams in a possible NFC Championship preview. The Bears will try to win their ninth game of the season as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the previous two games.
Chicago will have a tough task against the best team in the NFL that features a superb roster. Here are five keys to victory for the Bears against the Rams:
The offense will need to have its best game of the season
With the return of Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears offense can return to what it does best which is scoring through deep passes. Of Trubisky’s 20 passing touchdowns this season, eight have been by 15 yards or more.
The Rams defense is one of the league’s best in forcing pressure and turnovers but do allow opposing offenses to score through the air. Los Angeles has allowed 27 points or more in half of their games. In six of their games this season, the Rams defense has allowed an opposing quarterback to throw for 250 yards or more.
If the Bears offense can play mistake-free football, they will have a large opportunity to score much-needed points in what could be a high scoring game.
Second time this season of having a prior game plan on film against an opponent
Bears head coach Matt Nagy is fortunate as his former team, the Kansas City Chiefs, have played Bears opponents twice this season before Chicago has. This is key as Nagy’s offensive playbook is very similar to that of Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s playbook. Before the Bears faced the New England Patriots back in week seven, Reid and the Chiefs had played the Patriots the prior week.
It gave Nagy a full game’s worth of film of how an opponent scouted and schemed against an offense similar to his. Against the Patriots, the Bears score 31 points and nearly missed two other scores due to a turnover and a stop at the one-yard line. The Chiefs and Rams faced one another just three weeks ago in what was the game of the year as the Rams won 54-51. Nagy will be looking at that film from the game and it will be interesting to see what he takes away from it.
The Rams have one of the league’s best offenses featuring quarterback Jared Goff, All-Pro Todd Gurley, and a full complement of wide receivers. It will be up the Bears defense to slow down the Rams offense as it is imperative that linebacker Khalil Mack leads the way. I
n the Bears three primetime night games this season, Mack has been unstoppable as he has recorded three sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception return for a score. In his four games since returning from injury, he has recorded four sacks. It will be hard to stop the Rams from scoring, but if the Bears can apply pressure they can limit the scoring through sacks and turnovers. They are currently fifth in sacks and lead the league in turnovers.
Force the Rams to beat you without Todd Gurley
Running back Todd Gurley is the key to the Rams offense as he leads the league in rushing with 1175 yards and rushing touchdowns with 15. He has six 100 yard rushing games on the season and has five games of two touchdowns or more. Chicago’s defense is second in the NFL in stopping the run as opponents are averaging just 3.7 yards per rush against them.
They have only allowed two running backs to rush for more than 100 yards and have given up just two rushing touchdowns on the year.
No place like home for Goff and the Rams passing game.
The Rams third-year quarterback has had a great year so far throwing 21 touchdown passes and is just 246 yards away from eclipsing 4,000 passing yards. His performance has varied though depending if he is playing at home or on the road. At home, Goff is averaging 366 passing yards and three touchdown passes per game. On the road, he has averaged 259 passing yards and one touchdown pass per game.
Furthermore, five of his seven interceptions have come on the road also. The Bears secondary will have a challenge with Rams wide receiver Robert Woods and Brandon Cooks who have combined for 127 receptions and 1997 receiving yards thru 12 games. If Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara can limit the Rams duo, it could force Goff to struggle to have to look for other targets in the passing game.