Last year these two teams met on Sunday Night Football in Chicago, and it’s hard to imagine how disappointing these two teams have been ever since that game. The Bears were 8-4 at the time, and the Rams came in at 11-1, their offense in full Rambo mode, firing weapons at will against opposing defenses. The Bears bludgeoned the Rams offense that night, and the blueprint for defeating the LA was put on display for the rest of the league.
The Rams limp into this matchup with an offense that hasn’t scored a touchdown in their last 19 possessions dating back to the third quarter of their game against the Bengals in London. Adding injury to insult, the Rams lost their starting center Brian Allen and their starting right tackle Rob Havenstein. Both will be out on Sunday, and overall the Rams will be starting four new offensive linemen when compared to last year’s team.
Rams Offense vs. Bears Defense
If Jared Goff was a quarterback that dealt well with pressure, the Rams might be able to scheme up a way to hide their O-line deficiencies. But, unfortunately for the Rams, Goff is much more likely to throw the ball to the other team than slide step and make an accurate throw when he’s under pressure.
Luckily for LA, the Bears will still be without nose tackle Akiem Hicks. But Chicago's defensive line is still stacked with talent, with Eddie Goldman a force up the middle and Nick Williams already with more sacks that Khalil Mack.
Mack has been mitigated recently by opposing offenses dedicating multiple blockers to him. But the Rams may be unequipped to pull that off without losing one-on-one battles on the other side.
Further complicating the Rams offensive game plan is wide receiver Brandin Cooks being ruled out. When the Rams came to Chicago last year it was without Cooper Kupp, and the Bears luck out again with Cooks this year. Goff still has Robert Woods, Kupp and tight end Gerald Everett as viable weapons, but this offense continues to be stunted compared to last year due to an inability to generate a running game.
The Rams used play-action to perfection in 2018. But as soon as teams figured it out the offense has regressed to a below average level. Running the ball LA ranks 17th in efficiency, and ranks 18th in passing efficiency. That’s not the same high-flying Sean McVay “boy genius” bred offense that was lauded just a year ago.
The difference seems to be squarely on the offensive line. Todd Gurley losing a step is also a huge blow to this offense’s identity.
The Bears rank tied for 4th overall in defensive efficiency, coincidentally enough with the Rams. The Bears rush defense has taken the biggest hit with Akiem Hicks out, and they rank 12th overall in defending the run. Against the pass, the Bears rank 7th overall.
Bears Offense vs. Rams Defense
While the Rams have been incredibly disappointing on offense, it’s nothing compared to the atrocious offense of the Chicago Bears. The scary part for Chicago is that they might be facing the best defense they’ve seen all year in LA.
The Rams are a top 10 team at getting after the quarterback on the defensive line, led by All-Pro Aaron Donald. They’re also just as good at limiting the oppositions’ running game, ranking 7th in adjusted line yards. Meanwhile, the Bears are a bottom seven team in both pass protection and rushing success on the offensive line.
To make matters worse, Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is squarely in the basement when it comes to NFL QB's. Having severely regressed in year three, he ranks 31st out of 32 quarterbacks in QBR. The Bears have a talented rookie running back in David Montgomery, but their line is mostly incapable of opening lanes for him.
As much as this matchup is a nightmare for the Rams on offense, it’s much scarier for the Bears. That explains why the Rams opened as favorites as large as 7.5 points before the number was bought down through 7, currently sitting at Rams -6.
The Bears are the slightly sharp side as of Sunday afternoon with 46% of the bets on Chicago accounting for 56% of the dollars wagered on the game.
The total has also been steadily bet down. Opening at 42 points, the total is currently sitting at 40 and is likely to continue to drop into the high 30’s. Any number with a "4" in front of it may prove to be a value in this one.
How are either of these teams going to score points? It’s the battle of bad offensive lines with disappointing young QB’s and two offensive coaches that don’t have the personnel they need to do what they want. Combine that with two elite defenses and this should be one hell of a Sunday Night slobber knocker.