Three-pronged plan can let the Bears pull off biggest victory of the season

The Bears need to keep the Rams sitting on offense, reeling on defense.

Big plays on both sides of the ball staked the Chicago Bears to their 8-3 record, before losing last week’s game in New Jersey to the New York Giants.

Now the Bears run up against the 11-1 Los Angeles Rams, with established big-time players at numerous positions.

They churn out more big plays on both sides of the football on a weekly basis than the Bears have all season.

The Bears probably don’t have a chance of catching the NFC’s top seed or even second-seeded New Orleans, but if they’re to maintain their solid standing atop the NFC North they may need to hand the Rams their second road loss.

Quarterback Jared Goff (27 TD passes), NFL rushing leader Todd Gurley (1,175 yards) and wide receivers Brandin Cooks (63 catches, 1,026 yards) and Robert Woods (64 catches, 971 yards) benefit from a huge, healthy offensive line. Scoring almost 35 points a game, they’re looking like football’s version of the Golden State Warriors.

And even though the Rams defense has slid to 18th overall, no one is accusing Aaron Donald (16 ½ sacks, 20 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles) and Ndamukong Suh of slacking.

Here are the three keys for the Bears to stay close, and possibly pull off the upset they need to make everyone forget about last week’s nightmare in East Rutherford.

3. Don’t let Todd Gurley get started.

Worrying about a running back when the passing game strikes like some futuristic laser weapon might seem a waste of time. But if they don’t stop Gurley, they’ll stop nothing. The Rams blend in the run perfectly with their air attack. Gurley can wear out defenses. A week ago, the Bears had the game in hand until halftime when Saquon Barkley broke off one long run. Then they spent the rest of the game on their heels. Gurley won’t let them spend it on their heels –they’ll be on their rear ends all day. So if they keep him from ever getting started they’ve got a fighting chance. After all, they’re supposed to be the second-best run defense in the league.

2. Take no chances.

The last thing the Rams need is wide-open green space in the secondary because of a miscommunication between defensive backs while the front seven was gambling with a blitz. The Denver Broncos gave the Rams fits with a basic four-man rush and the Bears need to do the same. And to do this, they’ll need their own big-play producer to step up his game. Khalil Mack needs to produce more game-changing plays. He didn’t have a sack until it was almost too late last week, and in the Thanksgiving Day win over Detroit he went without a sack. They need Mack to apply consistent pressure while the rest of the front gets after Goff in order to allow the secondary to play without taking risks.

1. Possess the football.

It doesn’t have to be a bruising running game straight up the middle, which is good because the Bears have shown they lack this. It can be Mitchell Trubisky scrambling for a few yards on third-and-1 or it can actually be Jordan Howard powering for yardage, like he did in his distant past. Or it can be Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller catching short routes in the flat that serve like running plays. Whatever, the Bears need time of possession. They need to keep the Rams offense off the field, but they can’t just eat up time. They need meaningful possessions that produce points, as well. The Bears average 31:31 a game in possession time, fourth best in the league. They’ll need it to prevent the Rams from unleashing their offense.

The line: Rams by 4.

The pick: Rams 31, Bears 21.

Elsewhere

Last week: 9-7 straight up, 6-10 ATS

This week………………………………………………………The pick

Jaguars +4 ½ at Titans…………………………………….Titans 20, Jaguars 10

Ravens +7 ½ at Chiefs………………………………………Chiefs 44, Ravens 20

Colts +4 ½ at Texans…………………………………………Texans 20, Colts 16

Panthers -1 at Browns.……………………………………..Panthers 20, Browns 17

Falcons +6 at Packers……………………………………….Falcons 27, Packers 19

Saints -8 at Bucs………………………………………………..Saints 41, Bucs 27

Jets +3 ½ at Bills……………………………………………….Jets 27, Bills 20

Patriots -8 at Dolphins………………………………………Patriots 31, Dolphins 20

Giants + 1 ½ at Redskins………………………………...Giants 26, Redskins 14

Broncos -6 at 49ers…………………………………………..Broncos 28, 49ers 13

Bengals +14 at Chargers………………………………...Chargers 29, Bengals 17

Lions -2 ½ at Cardinals……………………………………..Cardinals 28, Lions 24

Eagles +4 at Cowboys……………………………….………Cowboys 24, Eagles 17

Steelers -11 at Raiders……………………………………...Steelers 27, Raiders 23

Vikings +3 ½ at Seahawks………………………………..Vikings 20, Seahawks 17

Comments
No. 1-2
Gene Chamberlain
Gene Chamberlain

Editor

You're underselling their defense. They may be able to slow the Rams down enough to let their own offense take advantage of some of the Rams' problems in pass coverage. And teams have run the ball pretty effectively at times on the Rams even with Donald and Suh in there. Seattle worked the edges and cut back with their running game. And the Bears can do that.

Thatbearsguy
Thatbearsguy

I think you need a fourth one in there -- have someone hijack the bus at the airport. They don't have a chance. They might score a few touchdowns to make it interesting for a while but those guys are pretty phenomenal on offense. Bears just havent had enough time in their offense to compete with that.