The 5-1 Chicago Bears are shocking the local and national media with their fast start, continuing to prove their doubters wrong. Here are predictions for their matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Chicago Bears are 5-1 and sit alone atop the NFC North. No, this is not a typo. The Bears, who many in the media predicted to win just three games all season, already have five and are ahead of the Green Bay Packers, one of their favorite teams.
It hasn’t been pretty to watch, but the Bears just keep on winning. The offense still has its struggles, but the defense makes big plays when it has to and pressures opposing quarterbacks into making mistakes.
Despite their record, most of the media are still doubters. They continue to point out the deficiencies on offense. Every team has its deficiencies, though, right? The Kansas City Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champs and are also 5-1, but they have their deficiencies as well, especially on defense.
Much has been said about the quality of the Bears’ opponents. Those opponents own a .429 winning percentage. By contrast, the Packers’ opponents own a .393 winning percentage. Why is it, then, that the Packers are media darlings while the Bears are frauds?
We enter Week 7 and the Bears find themselves as underdogs again. They face the Los Angeles Rams, who opened as 6.5 point favorites on Sunday. Today, that went up to seven points. The Bears need to work again to prove their doubters wrong. They’ll have a second opportunity to do so on primetime. Last time it was at home against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. This time they’ll need to do it on the road in Los Angeles on Monday Night Football. Here are some predictions for the game.
The defense continues to shine
Yes, the Chicago Bears defense is dominating. The unit allowed less than 20 points in three straight games and four of their six games. The defense ranks first in red zone touchdown percentage and second on third-down conversions allowed.
Now the Bears defense faces an offense that many experts keep insisting should be high-powered. That isn’t the case, however. The Rams’ offense ranks 19th in points scored. The passing attack ranks 28th in pass attempts, 19th in passing touchdowns, and 11th in interceptions. Their rushing game is better, ranking 10th in rushing yards and 4th in rushing touchdowns. They like to run the ball a lot as well, ranking 6th in rushing attempts.
The Bears run defense has had its problems with stopping the run, but it has improved as the season progressed. The Bears will give up some rushing yards but refuses to give up touchdowns, ranking first in total touchdowns allowed with just nine. Additionally, they rank second in passer rating against.
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The Bears’ pass rush gives opposing quarterbacks fits. They rank 10th in both sacks (15) and quarterback hits (35). Khalil Mack has been a beast and is quieting the critics who hinted that last season was the start of his decline. He ranks ninth in sacks and eighth in quarterback pressures.
The pass rush needs to harass Jared Goff and force him into mistakes. He has trouble with Chicago’s defense and that must continue. In two career games against the Bears, he completed just 50 percent of his passes for 353 yards. He has yet to throw a touchdown but has thrown five interceptions. Chicago treats him roughly and needs to do it again.
Prediction: Goff throws for 183 yards, throws two interceptions, and fumbles once. The Bears allow the Rams 102 total rushing yards and a touchdown.
Foles again does what he needs to do to get the job done
Quarterback Nick Foles hasn’t been lights out in his stint in Chicago, but he’s done what’s needed to do to get the Bears in the win column. If the offensive line is just a little better and he gets more help from the running game he’d be able to quiet all the critics.
Just like Goff, Foles will go up against a tough defense. While the Bears have given up 116 points this season, the Rams defense has allowed 114 points. They rank in the top ten in both passing yards allowed (4th) and passing touchdowns allowed (6th). Also, they rank 5th in sacks and 10th in passer rating against.
This is going to be a defensive battle. Neither quarterback will look very good in this game. Foles’ propensity to make the big play may likely be the difference in the game. This is what he did against the tough Tampa Bay defense and he needs to do it again against the Rams.
Prediction: Foles throws for 202 yards and a touchdown.
Robinson leads the way
Wide receiver Allen Robinson has played like the top receiver that he is. Once again, he leads the receiving corps in targets with 66. He’s caught 40 of those targeted balls for 474 yards and two touchdowns. Here is something interesting — his targets are the most of any receiver in the league. More interesting is the fact that he has zero drops for the season. That’s what a top receiver does. Also, that’s what a receiver does when he deserves a new contract.
The other receivers haven’t stepped up behind Robinson, however. The second-highest targeted player isn’t even a wide receiver. Darnell Mooney is the next receiver behind Robinson in targets with 30.
This is a game in which Robinson needs to shine if he wants to strengthen his case for a new contract. Foles targeted him 16 times and Robinson made 10 catches for 90 yards against Tampa Bay. He made some big catches that extended drives. He needs to do that against Los Angeles. If Foles gets throws off to Robinson, he needs to make those types of catches again.
Prediction: Robinson catches 9 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.
The tight ends become Foles’ safety valve
The Chicago Bears’ tight ends have 30 catches for 265 yards and 5 touchdowns. This is a big improvement from the tight ends unit of last season. Jimmy Graham leads the way with 22 catches for 203 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not bad for a has-been.
If the other receivers cannot step up and help Robinson and Foles, then Graham and the other tight ends need to do it. They give Foles big targets and if they make big catches it’ll open things up for Robinson and the receivers. They are especially important in the red zone. If the Bears get in the red zone the tight ends should be utilized. Graham’s done that for most of the season. Kmet was the guy last week against the Carolina Panthers, catching a nine-yard pass early in the first quarter. The tight ends must come through again this week.
Prediction: Graham has 6 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. Kmet has 3 catches for 32 yards.
Santos has another big game
With this being a close, tough, defensive battle, the kicking game will be crucial. Cairo Santos started out a little shaky, missing a couple of field goal attempts he should have made. He made big kicks against the Bucs, however, including the game-winner. That last kick likely gave Santos all the confidence in the world because he hit three field goals on three attempts against Carolina. One of them was a career-high 55-yarder.
The game will be close throughout so Santos needs to come through. He appears to be on a roll now. After making just three of his first five attempts, he’s made his last seven attempts. He’s made 10 of his 12 attempts for 83.3 percent.
His success continues in this game. The Chicago Bears haven’t had much success since Robbie Gould left, but Santos could be the answer (in 2020 at least). Last season’s starter, Eddy Pineiro, is still on injured reserve and now it appears he may not come off it for quite some time, if at all this season. As a backup plan, the Bears signed Kai Forbath to the practice squad in case something happens to Santos. For now, though, let’s hole Santos is the guy for the rest of the season and he continues his success.
Prediction: Santos goes 3-for-3 in field goal attempts.