Rams vs. Bears - Week 7 preview
5 key factors for Rams
1.) Pressuring Foles
The 2020 Los Angeles Rams don't have a good pass rushing contingent to support DT Aaron Donald. The only real possibility to get something (somewhat) unanticipated here in a positive sense is if either EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo or rookie EDGE Terrell Lewis have breakout campaigns. With Lewis missing the first month of the season and Okoronkwo now out with an elbow injury for a bit, the Rams will have to continue to lean into OLB Leonard Floyd though he's not a pass rushing specialist.
So it's going to be very interesting to see the battle tonight between this crew and the Chicago Bears' tackles in LT Charles Leno, Jr., and RT Bobby Massie especially because the Rams' secondary should clamp down at the back creating plenty of 3rd down pass rushing opportunities and QB Nick Foles obviously isn't mobile enough to require that to be accounted for in the gameplan.
One thing that might be worth keeping an eye out for early on is how quickly Foles tries to get out of the pocket. With his lack of mobility and needing to throw the ball away to avoid coverage sacks, I'd expect the Bears to have prepped him to get on the move quickly. How quickly and how often he begins fleeing will be key to setting the tone here on the first two or so 3rd and longs.
2.) Malcolm Brown in Poundtown
The Bears offer one of the better defenses in all of football, but they're a bit more susceptible to the run than the pass. What makes it tough on opposing is that they match their athleticism and speed in the secondary with a ton of power up front with a very good ILB tandem of Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. That could well mean a reversion to using RB Malcolm Brown as the primary back in the Rams' three-pronged rushing attack of Brown, Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson, Jr.
Leaning on Brown to empower a direct rushing plan was the go to in Week 4 against the New York Giants. If that ends up being the way forward tonight, the Rams are going to have to do a better job blocking on the edges of the offensive line to get more production as Brown was severely limited in that one:
3.) (Red zone) opportunity knocks
In 2018. the Rams were completely stifled offensively by the Bears' defense. In that Week 14 game, the Rams mustered just 6 points going 3/12 on 3rd downs with 3 of those points coming in their two red zone trips. The four interceptions from QB Jared Goff obviously didn't help.
Last year, the Rams got some revenge though Bears DC Chuck Pagano oversaw a very good game from his defense allowing just 17 points which was enough for a Rams win. The Rams again had just three conversions on 3rd down (this time out of 10 total 3rd downs). And while the Rams technically had three drives get into the red zone, the final one came after the Bears turned the ball over on downs asking the Rams to pick up a first down and take a knee to end the game. The other two red zone trips? Two touchdowns. Considering that Bears K Eddy Pineiro missed two first half field goals, the Rams' success in getting into the endzone when they got inside the Chicago 20-yard line was key to the win.
That might be key tonight again in what could very well be yet another defensively controlled game.
4.) Paper tigers still bite
The Rams, at 4-2, and Bears, 5-1, are both dealing with questions as to the authenticity of their winning records.
For the Rams, it's been the fact their four wins came in their four games against the NFC East and that, thus, they've lost every game against an opponent not in the East. It's a small sample size and you can't really knock the Rams for winning the games they needed to win, but it's a criticism that's got some standing.
For the Bears, their five wins have come via a 20 total point differential. Throw in an eight-point loss, and their season-long differential is just +12 compared to the Rams' +38 (with two losses!). And if the Rams are wearing the NFC East around their necks, it's worth pointing out Chicago has just one win against a team with a winning record in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But somebody's gotta win this one, and whomever it is is going to get one of their biggest wins of the season.
5.) K Sam Sloman
I still don't want to talk about it.
3 key matchups
1.) Rams' edge rushers v. Bears' tackles
Mentioned it in the first key factor, but really think this could be the most important matchup of the game. And in all honesty, it's not one I think the Rams will need to win consistently. They just need the sporadic big moment to help lift the defense a notch while Aaron Donald and the secondary do the heavy lifting.
2.) Rams LT Andrew Whitworth & RT Rob Havenstein v. Bears EDGE Khalil Mack
Mack gets deployed on both sides of the line, so both Whit and Hav will likely see the Bears' premier edge rusher. Given the Rams' 3rd down issues (which I detailed in this thread), they'll need to avoid 3rd and long where Mack can just tee off. If they can limit themselves to few of those, perhaps Hav and Whit can do just enough to let Goff work.
3.) Rams HC Sean McVay v. Bears DC Chuck Pagano
Given how much the Rams have struggled offensively against the Bears the last two outings,. nobody should be surprised if this one gets into a defensive slugfest. And after a pretty rough game against the San Francisco 49ers where McVay yet again got worked by 49ers DC Robert Saleh, tonight's matchup between the coaches overseeing the Rams' offense and the Bears' D is a premier one.
Date: Sunday, October 26, 2020
Time: 8:15pm ET/5:15pm PT
Location: SoFi Stadium | Inglewood, CA
Announcers: Steve Levy (play-by-play), Brian Griese, Louis Riddick (analysts), Lisa Salters (sideline reporter)
English, National: Westwood One
Announcers: Ryan Radtke (play-by-play), Rod Woodson (analyst)
Radio English, Local: ESPN 710 AM
Announcers: J.B. Long (play-by-play), Maurice Jones-Drew (analyst), D’Marco Farr (sideline reporter)
Spanish, Local: Tu Liga Radio 1330
Announcers: Troy Santiago (play-by-play), Ricardo Lopez (analyst)
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