What to watch for in Bears-Rams 'Monday Night Football' matchup

Sitting at 5-1, Nick Foles and the Chicago Bears enter Monday Night Football with the franchise’s best record through six games since 2012.

Awaiting their arrival inside their spaceship of a stadium will be Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams (4-2), a club looking to bounce back after a tough loss to a longtime rival.

As we approach the midway point of the season, this showdown between two of the NFC’s best could end up carrying big playoff implications when all is said and done.

Here are three storylines to watch for when the Bears and Rams face off on MNF (8:15 PM ET, ESPN):

Will Goff be able to get the bear off his back?

Of the 11 teams Goff has faced at least twice, the Bears are the only opponent against whom he’s yet to throw a touchdown. To make matters worse, Goff has thrown a combined five interceptions and 353 yards in those meetings. One has to believe that adds a little more fuel to the former No. 1 overall pick’s fire. It’s worth noting that Robert Woods missed last season’s 10-point win and Cooper Kupp was absent the year prior when L.A. lost by nine. Both will be at Goff’s disposal Monday night. The Rams are favoring a more ground-centric attack these days, but the duo have excelled in generating yards after the catch despite having fewer opportunities. Goff utilizes play-action on a league-high 42.1 percent of dropbacks and his targets have been great at creating separation; they’ll need plenty of that against the Bears’ stingy corners. Chicago ranks top-10 in pass yards allowed per game (224.2) and has surrendered a league-best one touchdown to a wide receiver, but Woods/Kupp will be their toughest test, to date.

How will Chicago’s skill players fare against L.A.’s pestering secondary?

Let’s start with the obvious: Allen Robinson is priority numero uno for the Rams. He has accounted for 474 of the Bears’ 1,438 receiving yards, which is the seventh-highest pct. (33.0) of a team’s receiving yards in the NFL, per NFL Research. Robinson’s catch radius naturally means he’ll be matched up against former teammate Jalen Ramsey, who covered him well in the last clash. Foles has an INT in each of his four appearances (three starts), so he’ll need to be particularly selfish with Ramsey and a formidable secondary lurking. L.A. has allowed the fourth-fewest YPG (209.5) on the year. Running back David Montgomery and his improved pass-catching will also be key; the second-year pro entered Week 7 with the eighth-most rec. yards (163) among RBs. Given how susceptible the Rams have been versus dual-threat backs — 305 rec. yards (sixth-most) — his presence could weigh heavily. Jimmy Graham, who has a team-high four TDs and logged 13 targets over the past two games, could again find a way to be a factor, as well.

Which defensive monster will impose his will most?

What Bears-Rams preview would be complete without a spotlight on the matchup’s defensive titans? Khalil Mack is listed as questionable with a back injury, but it’s hard to believe he’ll record a DNP considering the circumstances. Meanwhile, Aaron Donald is set to continue his reign of terror and add to his league-leading 7.5 sacks. Donald (27) and Mack (25; 4.5 sacks) rank second and fourth, respectively, in QB pressures, per Next Gen Stats. The former 2014 first-rounders enter MNF not only as leaders of imposing pass-rushing units — Mack withRobert Quinn and Akiem Hicks, and Donald alongsideLeonard Floyd and Michael Brockers — but also as pillars for stout defenses overall. Next to the Ravens, the Bears and Rams are the only teams to allow fewer than 20 points four times. Week 7’s finale could turn into another such outing.

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