Can you believe it’s already week 3? On top of that we’re 1-1. This game is one that I saw as a possible upset. After winning one last week, that looks even more possible. Well, enough chitter-chatter. Let’s analyze.
What to watch for:
- Breakout game for our defense: So far, our defense hasn’t made much of a splash. We all know that is because of our approach against Detroit and a few lucky breaks for the Redskins. Our run defense does officially stink, though, but since we’re facing a terrible O-line and a receiving corps that’s pretty good but not unstoppable, our pass defense should continue to shine. Jay Cutler isn’t as slippery or explosives RG3, and his protection is about as bad as we’ll face all year, so we have to notch more than 1 sack. Brandon Marshall is obviously a handful to guard, but he’s nothing Cortland Finnegan or Bradley Fletcher can’t handle(Janoris Jenkins usually covers the No. 2 receiver, even in the nickel package). Matt Forte is they’re second leading receiver behind Brandon Marshall, so expect a lot of dump offs and check downs to Michael Bush, since Matt Forte is likely to not play. Speaking of which, we’re only catching a slight break with Matt Forte being out, because Michael Bush is pretty good to say the least, and the Rams will give up big yards to just about any running back.
- Tough game for our offense: The Bears’ D is getting old, but they still look pretty solid. Chicago’s pass rush, which features future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers, will be yet another test, and one of the toughest, for our makeshift offensive line. The two teams that have played the Bears, the Colts and Packers, did not pass the ball very well. Aaron Rodgers did pretty good, but got sacked 5 times, and Andrew Luck 4 times. Cedric Benson of the Packers actually had a pretty good game running against the Packers with 81 yards on 20 carries, so Daryl Richardson could have a big game with Steven Jackson likely sitting out. Sam Bradford likely won’t, though. Aside from the Bears pass rush, which has already notched 9 sacks in just two games, they have a tough secondary. Featured in this secondary are veteran pro-bowler Charles Tillman and sudden breakout player Tim Jennings, who had 3 career interceptions going into this season, and now has 3 on this season alone. Sam won’t have much time, and our receivers will have a hard time getting open. I’m worried about Sammy looking a little like his 2011 self, but after his last two showings, there would be no reason to panic.
- Daryl Richardson and Austin Pettis: After the pre-season reps Pettis got with the one’s, it will be interesting to see how much he’s used in regular season action. Brandon Gibson has made a case for himself at the no. 2 spot, and it’s hard to see Pettis surpassing Steve Smith, so he’ll probably be the fourth option. Steven Jackson is unlikely to play, with yet another groin issue. That means Daryl Richardson, a surprise pre-season star, will get his first career. The Bears’ run defense is okay, but not scary. We could be getting a glimpse of the future. Richardson obviously can’t carry the whole load, so that means we’ll also be getting our first the regular season look at Isaiah Pead. The main thing to watch is how well he’s adjusted.
- Special teams: The importance of special teams will show in this game. One of the Bears’ biggest strengths is the presence of Devin Hester on special teams. Last week, at the Dome, our coverage didn’t allow any room for big returns. However, going against Devin Hester, it is likely that our coverage could be exposed. We will have to be able to limit big plays on special teams, especially in crunch time. With this game likely being a low-scoring defensive slugfest, expect Devin Hester vs. the Rams ST coverage to be a deciding factor in this game
Sam Bradford could have his roughest game of the season, to say the least. Then again, if take the same approach as we did with the Lions, with Daryl Richardson getting the defense tired, Bradford could have another big drive or two towards the end. Devin Hester will probably come up huge late in the game, with a big punt return. Jay Cutler should have yet another frustrating game. This could get ugly for both teams, but in the end the Bears will come out with this one. Tough loss for the Rams. Bears win 17-13.