What a roller coaster of ups and downs. A big Chicago Bears win on Thanksgiving in Detroit led to a great week of practice, followed by a terrible game against the Giants, then a great fourth-quarter comeback, only to ultimately lose in overtime. After a good enough game on Thanksgiving, Chase Daniel never found a groove in the 30-27 overtime loss on Sunday against the Giants. A cold, rainy day got off to a terrible start with a fumble on the opening kick-off and a pick-six two plays later. There is not much to talk about — the Bears just did not play good football. It was an ugly game. Chase Daniel, with a chance to win it, fumbled the ball three times in overtime. The lone bright spot for the Bears was Tarik Cohen, who finished the day with 12 receptions for 156 yards, 30 yards rushing and a 1-yard touchdown pass to send the game into overtime.
In the beginning of the season, I sounded like a broken record, pleading Coach [Matt] Nagy to run the ball with Jordan Howard. However, the run game just did not get going, and as the offense kept progressing and the team kept winning, I let it go. Yesterday, the run game did get going. In the first half, Howard had 13 carries for 69 yards (5.3 yds/att). One drive they even ran the ball six straight times, which set up a beautiful play-action pass for a touchdown. After a first half like that, one would think that the run game is working, keeping pressure off the backup quarterback, so they should keep at it. That was not the case, as Howard only had three attempts in the second half and overtime for a total of seven yards. Nagy has gone on record saying he loves running the football, well what the hell happened in the second half yesterday?
Now that I have aired my grievances it is time to look at the big picture. Everyone in the NFC North lost yesterday, so the Bears are not in a worse position than they were before Sunday’s action. They are actually in a better position since they still hold the 1.5-game lead over Minnesota with less games to play. The Packers are essentially done and have fired their head coach Mike McCarthy. The Lions have been done. The Bears are still in first place and in a great position moving forward.
Next week is the Bears' biggest test of the season. The Los Angeles Rams (11-1) come to Soldier Field to play under the lights on Sunday. Temperatures will be below freezing for this marquee matchup, which is important to note, as the Rams have played in only one game this season where the weather was as cold as it is forecasted to be, and they did not play well. They played in Denver and won by a narrow 23-20 margin. Jared Goff had 50 percent completion and an interception. The star of that game was Todd Gurley II, who ran for over 200 yards. The Bears will not allow that to happen, especially at home. Stopping the Rams running game will be a key factor if the Bears want to pull off a victory. They are still second in the league against the run even after sputtering against rookie-of-the-year candidate Saquon Barkley this week. Expect them to return to form and hold Todd Gurley II from running wild.
If the Bears do stop the Rams from running the ball that will be good news, because Jared Goff is significantly worse on the road compared to his home stats. He’s thrown for 104 less yards/game on the road and only has nine touchdown passes (18 at home) in the same amount of games. Five of his seven interceptions have come on the road, and this Bears secondary is going to be hungry to force more after only getting one takeaway last week.
The Rams defense is not great, to put it lightly. They are middle-to-bottom in nearly all categories. They’ve given up the fifth-most passing touchdowns and they’re giving up over five yards per rushing attempt. This is a defense that Nagy could have a lot of fun messing with, if the offensive line can hold off their one superstar, Aaron Donald. Howard and Cohen could both break out against this defense.
The Rams are a powerhouse on the offensive side of the ball, but they are a little less potent on the road and this type of weather has affected them in the past. The Bears have been very good at home, and they will thrive in #BearWeather.
Bears 32, Rams 22