Coming off of what the Chicago Bears hope to be the worst outing of Jay Cutler’s season, the Bears look to rebound against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday in week three. The Rams come into Chicago 1-1, after a three-point victory last week against the Washington Redskins.
The Rams brought in a new coach in the offseason, in Jeff Fisher. They also brought in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, although Williams is currently serving an indefinite suspension for the tiresome bounty situation in New Orleans. That piece of information is important because last week rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III accused the Rams of having a target on them, and all but stopped at hinting towards the bounty situation.
Cutler was awful last week against the Green Bay Packers and he will look to silence much of the nonsense that has been discussed the past ten days. With running back Matt Forte out, Michael Bush will have to shoulder the load in his absence. Bush was able to do so when Darren McFadden went down in Oakland, and the Bears are hoping he can do the same until Forte can come back.
The Rams have two very good cornerbacks in Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan. While both of these corners are physical at the line, their aggressive play can lead to some big plays down field. This is an ideal situation for Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was almost nonexistent on the field last week.
With Cutler’s desire to attack down field and ability to take some chances other quarterbacks may not, the Bears can take this game early by attacking the holes the Rams may leave deep down field (assuming Cutler is on his game). The question won’t be “if” they are there, but rather whether Cutler can hit his targets in stride for a big play and a possible six points.
One of the big reasons for the success of the Rams offense against the Redskins last week was because of quarterback Sam Bradford being so comfortable in the pocket. While they did sack him twice, it didn’t seem to affect Bradford. The Bears front four will have to get pressure on Bradford, maybe even more than normally required in the cover-two defense.
Running back Steven Jackson will not play on Sunday, but backup Daryl Richardson had a decent game last week, running for 83 yards on 15 carries. The Bears defense is always focused on takeaways, and Richardson is a back who will put the ball on the ground.
As for the passing game, wide receiver Danny Amendola had a huge game last week against the Redskins, with 15 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. What is even more remarkable is that he was targeted 16 times. Against the Bears zone defense that shouldn’t happen, so forcing Bradford to look off to other receivers may irritate Bradford and force turnovers.
Essentially, this game is set up to be full of turnovers if the gameplans aren’t executed flawlessly. The key for the Bears will be to win the turnover battle and get pressure on Bradford. If they do that, the Bears should win this one easily. As they found out against Green Bay, things can get away from them easily if things don’t go exactly as planned. Marshall needs to maintain his composure as Finnegan will do everything he can to get in his head. There are plenty of things that can go wrong for either side, and for the Bears they need to show the composure they uncharacteristically lost last week.
Prediction: Bears 36 Rams 17
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