The Bears (4-5) defeated the Lions last week to break a four-game losing streak, while the Rams (5-4) are coming off a close loss to the Steelers. Both teams came into this season with high expectations but haven’t exactly lived up to them. They've dealt with injuries, inconsistency, and issues on both sides of the ball.
Getting to the playoffs will be easier said than done for these franchises, but the postseason is still a possibility. They’ll have to go through one another to make those goals a reality. The Rams traveled to Chicago as part of Week 14 of the 2018 campaign, but the Bears held them to just six points and snagged four interceptions in a huge Sunday night win en route to their first playoff appearance since 2010. The Bears need this win to stay in the playoff hunt while the Rams want payback.
Still, getting a wild-card berth will be difficult for either team. The 8-1 49ers and 8-2 Seahawks are battling in the NFC West, while the 8-2 Packers and 7-3 Vikings are in prime playoff position in the NFC North. Not only do the Bears and Rams have to keep up with them, they also have to keep an eye out for the 5-4 Eagles, Cowboys, and Panthers.
Chicago at Los Angeles
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 17 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Spread: Los Angeles -6
Three Things to Watch
1. Defense, defense, defense
This will most likely be the side of the ball that decides this game. Both teams rank in the top-15 in sacks and sit in the top-10 in both takeaways and run defense. The Bears have held their last three opponents to 22 points or fewer, they’ve collected seven total sacks during that same stretch, and they’ve only given up 13 total first-half points. The defense is once again the backbone of the Bears in 2019. Unfortunately, they won’t have linebacker Danny Trevathan this Sunday, as he’s out with an elbow injury.
As for the Rams, they’ve kept their last three opponents under 20 points. Sean McVay’s team has posted eight sacks during that span, they’ve registered five takeaways, and they’re outscoring the opposition 12-9 in the fourth quarter. The second half will be crucial for both squads.
2. Offenses could be better
Last year the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky and the Rams’ Jared Goff were in the top half of the league in quarterback rating. But this year they’ve combined to throw 12 interceptions, taken 38 combined sacks, and held QBRs in the 30s. Trubisky ranks 27th in passing yards (1,390), and Goff ranks 21st in touchdown passes (11). Trubisky ranks last in yards per pass (5.8), while Goff ranks 29th in completion percentage (60.3). It’s safe to say that both players have regressed in 2019.
Both teams have also struggled to run the ball despite having the talent to do so. The Rams rank 23rd in rushing yards (861), 21st in yards per game (96.2), and 22nd in yards per attempt (3.9). Todd Gurley (104 attempts, 428 yards, 4.1 yards per attempt, 6 TDs) is still trying to return to his previous form after last year’s knee injury. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks (27 catches, 402 receiving yards, 1 TD) is doubtful with a concussion.
For the Bears, it’s been a matter of not running the ball enough as opposed to effectiveness. They rank 27th in rushing attempts (205), 28th in both yards per attempt (3.5) and total rushing yards (725), and only have five rushing touchdowns to show for it. David Montgomery (129 carries, 466 yards, 5 TDs), the team’s leading rusher, is questionable due to an ankle injury. Without him, running the ball will be difficult. They will also be without tight ends Trey Burton (calf) and Adam Shaheen (foot), both of whom have dealt with injury and ineffectiveness all season.
Including last season, the Bears have won four of their last five meetings with the Rams by a combined score of 113-76. In fact, the Rams have only beaten the Bears once (2013) since 2003. The Rams are just 2-6 against the Bears since '03. Chicago 2-1 on the road this year, while the Rams are 1-2 at home and have lost their last two games at the now-named United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum by a combined score of 75-47.
Recent history is on the Bears side here. And they’ll manage to grab a slim and ugly victory in a defensive-dominated game.
Prediction: Bears 14, Rams 13
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.