With the 2019 NFL season hanging in the balance, the Los Angeles Rams find themselves in a must-win heading into their primetime matchup with the Chicago Bears in Week 11.
The Rams were unable to pick up where they left off before the bye after coming up short against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10. Despite another strong outing from the defense, the offense continues to be just a shell of its former dynamic self.
The Bears are also desperate to get their season back on track following a 4-5 start to the year. It is no secret that they have fallen vastly short of expectations thus far, however, they still have more than enough talent on both sides of the ball to compete with any team.
Rams Offense vs. Bears Defense
Los Angeles has been dealt a number of devastating blows to their offensive line throughout the course of the 2019 campaign. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse during the 17-12 loss to Pittsburgh after center Brian Allen picked up a season-ending MCL injury.
Meanwhile, right tackle Rob Havenstein has also been ruled out this week with a knee injury. Although the Rams are confident in their depth up front, it remains to be seen whether or not their optimism is well-justified.
It is no secret that this Bears defense has fallen vastly short of expectations this season. Regardless, they still boast one of the most talented groups in the league on this side of the ball.
Their linebacker corps will be shorthanded without Danny Trevathan and Isaiah Irving after they were ruled out for Week 11, Khalil Mack is healthy and ready to go though as the Los Angeles offensive line will look to keep him contained.
Rams Defense Vs. Bears Offense
The Rams defense has managed to overcome a slew of injuries this season to maintain their high level of play. They currently giving up the fifth-fewest rushing yards in the league (90.8) while cornerback Jalen Ramsey continues to get better situated with the scheme in the passing game.
The Bears offense will be without tight end Trey Burton and it remains to be seen whether or not running back David Montgomery will be able to overcome the ankle injury that has hobbled him all week. The prospect of Montgomery’s absence would undoubtedly deal a crushing blow to their chances of getting a run game going.
Three Keys To Victory
1. Overcome Struggles Along Offensive Line
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is the only starter that will be going about business as usual against the Bears. The other four offensive linemen are either making their first start of the year or playing out of position due to the recent rash of injuries up front.
This obviously raises even more concern about this group’s ability to protect quarterback Jared Goff considering they had already been struggling mightily to find their footing this season. They will certainly have their work cut out against a defense with no shortage of talented edge rushers led by Khalil Mack.
2. Make Fewer Mistakes Than Bears Offense
Given how poor both offenses have performed this season, it is safe to say that this matchup has all the makings of a defensive showdown. As such, the Rams’ ability to take care of the ball could have a drastic impact on the outcome of this matchup.
There is no question that Goff has been prone to turning the ball over when faced with consistent pressure. Fortunately, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has also endured his fair share of struggles while under duress.
If the defense can force Trubisky to try and make plays from within the pocket, it may only be a matter of time before the mistakes start to cost the Bears. The onus will ultimately fall on head coach Sean McVay to put Goff in the best position to manage the game.
3. Establish Run Game
If McVay is going to get the pressure off Goff, he will need to try and establish the run game early and often. This has been a key to victory for Los Angeles all season and will continue to be until they finally decide to commit to what had made them so successful in recent years.
McVay has taken the blame for not getting running back Todd Gurley more involved all year and his hesitance to do so cost them dearly in the loss to Pittsburgh. This could be the week where they opt to live and die by the run, especially amidst all the changes along the offensive line.
The Rams may find it much easier to try and get a push up front than attempt to figure out their pass protection against this talented Bears edge rush.