Rams vs. Bears: How the teams match up for Sunday’s game
Here’s how the Los Angeles Rams (5-4) and Chicago Bears (4-5) match up for the Sunday afternoon game at the Coliseum:
When Rams have the ball
After failing to score a touchdown against an aggressive Pittsburgh Steelers defense last week, the Rams get no break against the Bears. Quarterback Jared Goff will be operating behind an injury-depleted offensive line that features veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth and four linemen with little or no NFL experience at their positions. Goff has passed for 11 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. In the 17-12 loss to the Steelers, he had two passes intercepted and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Receiver Brandin Cooks remains sidelined while recovering from concussions, so the Bears might follow the Steelers example and double-team Cooper Kupp, who was held without a catch for only the second time in his pro career. Coach Sean McVay keeps insisting there is no load management plan in place for Todd Gurley, but the star running back did not touch the ball in the fourth quarter of a winnable game against the Steelers. Former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio left the Bears to become coach of the Denver Broncos but the defense’s key components remain. Edge rusher Khalil Mack has 5 1/2 sacks and tackle Nick Williams six for a unit that also features linebackers Leonard Floyd and Roquan Smith, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Eddie Jackson.
When Bears have the ball
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky leads one of the NFL’s least productive offenses. The Bears rank in the bottom five in total yards, passing, rushing and scoring. Trubisky, the second pick in the 2017 draft, has passed for eight touchdowns, with three interceptions. He has been sacked 22 times. He passed for three touchdowns in last week’s 20-13 victory over the Detroit Lions. Running back David Montgomery has rushed for five touchdowns but is listed as questionable because of an ankle injury. Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey will match up against receiver Allen Robinson, a former teammate with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Robinson has 53 catches, three for touchdowns. Taylor Gabriel has four touchdown catches, running back Tarik Cohen two. The defense has been solid the last three games with Ramsey essentially shutting down one side of the field. Clay Matthews appears fully recovered from a jaw injury that forced him to sit out three games. He returned against the Steelers and recorded 11/2 sacks, increasing his team-leading total to seven. Before last season, tackle Aaron Donald set a short-lived record for a defender when he signed a $135-million extension that included about $87 million in guarantees. Shortly thereafter, the Bears signed Mack to a $141-million deal that included $90 million in guarantees.
When they kick
Rams punter Johnny Hekker is looking to bounce back, not from a bad kick but from an intercepted pass against the Steelers, his first interception in 21 career attempts. Greg Zuerlein has made 17 of 22 field-goal attempts. Kick returner JoJo Natson set up the Rams up for a possible game-winning drive against the Steelers, but the offense could not deliver. Eddy Pineiro has made 12 of 15 field-goal attempts for the Bears. Cohen returns punts, Cordarrelle Patterson kickoffs.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Rams need a victory to avoid falling out of contention for a playoff spot. It won’t be easy with a depleted offensive line and playing in front of a Coliseum crowd that will be full of boisterous Bears fans.
BEARS 20, RAMS 17
Rams’ line troubles and Bears’ shaky offense could make Sunday’s game a defensive struggle, putting the spotlight on Aaron Donald and Kahlil Mack.
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