PFW: Chicago shares its predictions for Bears vs. Los Angeles Rams on "Sunday Night Football:"
What's frustrating about my 9-3 record picking Bears games this year is my gut told me they would lose in Miami and at New York and I went against my instincts.
Not this week! The Los Angeles Rams are a better team than the Bears, but they're still going to get beat in Chicago this Sunday night in what will prove to be one of the more entertaining games of the season.
The one mistake I never saw coming was the win over the Vikings, but I will learn from that now. The Bears are for real, and Matt Nagy knows they have to keep getting better.
The major challenge will not be Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh or Jared Goff, it will be Todd Gurley. But if the Bears can shore up their No. 2 run 'D,' that's been tarnished a bit by LeGarrette Blount and Saquon Barkley the past two weeks, they are going to pull off another prime-time upset.
The Rams defense sounds great but has in fact been slightly below average this year, and I'm smelling a shootout in the return of Mitch Trubisky, a dominant game from Allen Robinson and a commitment from Nagy to finally get all that he can from Jordan Howard, allowing the Bears to out-physical the Rams and prevail in this one.
Bears 30, Rams 27
The Bears could keep things competitive with Mitch Trubisky back. But the Rams have been held under 29 points just once in 12 games, and that was when they scored 23 in a three-point victory over the Broncos seven games ago.
The Bears, even with Trubisky, don’t have the offensive firepower to get into a shootout with the Rams, who have the advantage of a potent run game. Though Trubisky has posted four games with passer ratings above 102.0, he’s also had five games under 78.0. And it’s questionable whether he will be at the top of his game three weeks removed from his last live action.
While trying to avoid the relentless pass rush of Rams DL Aaron Donald, Trubisky must also get WR Taylor Gabriel and TE Trey Burton more involved in the offense. After a strong start, Gabriel has just 17 catches for 118 yards and a 6.9-yard average in his last four games. Burton has only 14 catches for 123 yards (8.8-yard average) in his last six games.
The Bears know they need to get better running the ball, but they’ve failed to do so.
Rams 27, Bears 20
After we first introduced the Bears-Rams comparisons more than a year ago, Sunday night has the chance to be Chicago’s coronation of sorts. I think it will be.
One of the few missing elements in this magical Bears’ ride relative to the 2017 Rams is a signature win. Sure, bullying the Vikings in prime time three weeks ago was impressive, but they aren’t as good as we thought.
The Rams are even better than last season, when their first true statement victory of 2017 came in Week 12, besting the NFC South-champion Saints. They did it with a ball-control attack, strong showing from their Most Improved Player of the Year and terrific defensive and special-teams efforts headed by their MVP and cast of All-Pro third-phasers.
The Bears won’t be as fortunate as the Rams were a year ago in missing perhaps New Orleans’ best defender, Marshon Lattimore; Aaron Donald will wreck this game if the Bears let him.
But Khalil Mack can do the same, and the Bears match up as well as anyone vs. Todd Gurley and Goff’s pass catchers, if not Donald, who requires Matt Nagy's best game plan to slow. Add in Mitch Trubisky returning from injury with a vengeance, and the Bears scratch out a signature win.
Bears 24, Rams 23
Two weeks ago, as my mind wandered to this game, I felt like the Bears' chances of winning were not superb. The Rams, after all, are that good. But funny as it sounds, after the Bears lost to the lowly Giants and after the Rams won again, I've changed my perspective a bit.
Yes, this game represents the toughest challenge of the Bears' season — more than going to Green Bay in Week 1, tougher than the Patriots or Vikings games. The Rams are still humming offensively in a lot of respects, and they have enough impact defenders and a quality special-teams unit to have advantages in this game.
But something tells me this Bears team realized what it did by starting slowly and not finishing after a wild comeback last week. Until further notice, I can't say that this defense is elite, not with the Dolphins, Patriots and Giants games on their résumes. But if this unit slows down this Rams attack? I am willing to reconsider the stance.
Look for the Bears to borrow from the Lions' playbook a bit on how to keep the game close, and I think the return of Mitch Trubisky will be just what the Bears' offense needs. An upset here, one that re-stokes the fires of concerned fans.
Bears 34, Rams 31