By Rikki GreenbergÂ
Let’s face it folks. The battle between the disgruntled Chicago Bears (5-5) and the disembodied St. Louis Rams (2-8) has major pride implications for both teams.Â Both the Bears and Rams are coming off embarrassing losses (37-3 for the Chi, 35-16 for the Lou) and could use a little boost in the self-confidence department. With home-field advantage on my side, all fingers point to the Chicago Bears steamrolling over the Rams. If the Bears win this game, they have a better chance of not completely falling apart against the Minnesota Vikings (5-5) and come out on top in the NFC North.
Rams -The Rams are hurting offensively with both running back Steven Jackson (quad) and left tackle Orlando Pace (knee sprain) out with injuries. Second-year running back out of Â OSU Antonio Pittman (in place of Jackson) averaged 6.8 yards per attempt against the 49ers last Sunday and showed steady offensive production throughout the game. (Although Pittman is listed as probable because of a hamstring injury on NFL.com, he is more than likely to make an appearance against the Bears this Sunday). Paceâ€™s replacement will be tackle Adam Goldberg, (not to be confused with the actor who played the â€œHebrew Hammerâ€) a sixth year veteran out of Wyoming.
Bears â€“ The Bears have made a couple changes offensively since the devastating loss to the Packers. Apparently, the 14th overall 2008 draft pick rookie left tackle Chris Williams made his debut late in the game against Green Bay, (I was too busy turning off the television because I couldn’t take the pain anymore), which means 9-year veteran tackle John St. Clair will transition from left tackle to left guard and second-season guard Josh Beekman will be moved to the bench. The division match up against the Vikings is far more important to the Bears playoff hopes than this tilt with the Rams, so it would be advisable to let Captain Neck beard (listed as probable on chicagobears.com) take this Sunday off.Â Seeing a wincing Orton struggle to connect with a receiver was more painful than seeing Grossman attempt to dump off a pass and miss the intended target.
Key Match ups
Bears running back Matt Forte vs. Rams defensive front
Rams cornerback Fakhir Brown vs. wide receiver Rashied Davis or wide receiver Devin Hester (don’t look for number 23 on kick returns anymore, it’s all about D. Manning now)
Bears wide receiver Brandon “Welcome Back” Lloyd vs. Rams corner back Tye Hill
Rams – The Rams defense is ranked pretty much last or close to it in every defensive category (30th in total defense, 29th in rushing yards allowed per game and 32nd in points allowed per game), so Bears rookie running back Matt Forte (16 carries for 64 yards against the Packers during Week 11) might have a chance to boost his production. The biggest problem (and always has been recently) with the Bears is the quarterback. If the qb is accurate, consistent and protected, plays will be made and points will pop up on the scoreboard. When Orton (24 of 34 for 334 yards, 2 TDs against the Lions) was at his healthiest and best against the Lions during Week 5 of this season, the balls had juice, the receivers were at the right place at the right time and most importantly, touchdowns were scored.
Bears â€“ The Bears defense allowed 200 rushing yards and 227 passing yards against the Green Bay Packers last week. Even free safety Mike Brown agreed the defense was hot garbage. Unfortunately, Head Coach Lovie Smith wasn’t so realistic and decided it was better to move on from the loss and focus on the “six-game season” instead. The optimistic yet emotionless attitude Lovie constantly projects is really getting old. I understand it wouldn’t be very Lovie-like to bash the team and say how utterly embarrassed he is to be the Head Coach, but at least show a little frustration and passion (a la 49er interim coach Mike Singletary), so furious Bears fans like myself can feel like he cares.
Key Match ups:
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher vs. Rams quarterback Marc Bulger (easy target for Brian in my opinion)
Bears Free Safety Mike Brown vs. any Rams offensive player who gets into secondary territory
Bears quarterback Rex Grossman vs. Rams defensive line (if he can’t shine against the worst defense in the league, oy!)
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