Preview and pick for Monday Night football
The Los Angeles Rams have become known for their offense under imaginative head coach Sean McVay. But they're playing a little defense there too. Whether they can contend with the stop unit of the Chicago Bears is also an issue as these teams meet up for Monday Night Football at 8:15 PM ET at the relatively empty SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA.
ESPN will, of course, televise it live, and BetAnySports customers can watch the game and place wagers on it at the same time , using the facilities available through Sports Betting Prime.
These two teams have engaged in a pair of low-scoring affairs the last two years. When the Rams were on their way to the Super Bowl in 2018, they were scoring just under 35 points a game but were slowed to a crawl by the Bears, who held them to 214 total yards and completely boxed in Jared Goff, picking him off four times and sacking him three times, once for a safety. In the 15-6 win, Chicago also held Todd Gurley, a red-hot running back at the time, to only 28 yards.
Then last year the Rams did a little better, as Gurley, who was in his final days with the team, had his best game of the season. Goff still didn't have a lot of success, with just eleven completions, but the Bears didn't mount much offense and the result was a 17-7 Los Angeles victory.
But there is no question that the Rams appeared a little out of their element in those games, even as the Bears transitioned over to new D-coordinator Chuck Pagano last season.
Lo and behold, the Bears are stopping people again. They've allowed opponents to complete only 57% of their passes, which in this day and age is good enough to be best in the league. They may give up field goals, but not TD's; in fact, they stand alone as the best team in the NFL when it comes to keeping their foes out of the end zone on red zone trips.
A couple of weeks ago, the Bears hung a loss on Tom Brady and the Bucs. Last week, they faced the Carolina Panthers, who were making a lot of strides offensively with O-coordinator Joe Brady and QB Teddy Bridgewater. But they greatly neutralized Bridgewater, intercepted him twice, pressured him repeatedly, and really stopped Carolina in its tracks. Yet they were still outgained. And that's been a big part of the story with this team.
In the Monday Night Football odds that have been posted at BetAnySports, the Rams are the favorites:
Los Angeles Rams -6
Chicago Bears +6
Over 44.5 points -110
Under 44.5 points -110
If you are looking for "keys" to this game, one of them has to be the Rams' ability to exercise its play action philosophy. Goff and McVay want to do that all the time, and in fact, 47% of his passing yards have come off play action. To be able to do that, the Rams have to solidly establish the run threat. And even though the Bears have allowed 4.3 yards a carry, they generally are not going to put foes in a position to make easy third downs. The 31.8% they allow in those situations attests to that.
At some point the Rams are going to have to rely on Goff's arm. And he's had the luxury of having time in the pocket - 2.6 seconds per dropback, tied for best in the league. That luxury won't exist with the Bears and Khalil Mack & Co.
All this having been said, what the Bears have done on offense has often been depressing. Aside from Allen Robinson, there really is not a wide receiver threat. And without Tarik Cohen (injured), they really don't have that double-duty running back. Nick Foles, who operates a run-pass option, has gotten less in the way of yards after the catch from his receivers than any other quarterback. Only a handful of teams have been less successful in converting red zone trips into touchdowns.
And the Bears don't even get a chance to get a drive going much of the time. They have, in fact, been forced to punt 42.6% of the time. And it's their ill-fortune that the Rams have made their opponents punt 44.4% of the time. That L.A. defense yields only 5.9 yards per pass (although that comes with an asterisk because their four wins are over NFC East teams). And they have a bonus because they have a shutdown corner. What they may do is use Jalen Ramsey to take out the #2 Chicago receiver and then double-team Robinson. Pagano, the former Indianapolis coach, is a sharp defensive play-caller.
I don't know what Matt Nagy's process is, but his offensive scheme isn't producing results, and I don't see them getting far against the Rams. At the same time, the Bears have a good shot at taking Goff out of his game. And since their ground game is not likely to dominate, the best way to go here is with an UNDER. Let's put it this way - I don't see any evidence to indicate this is going to be an offensive shootout.
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