The LA Rams and Chicago Bears boast top NFL defenses. So why should you expect this one to be a high scoring game? Because it’s 2020.
The LA Rams defense is currently the NFL’s fifth-ranked defense in points allowed with just 19.0 points per game, down from 2019’s 22.8 points. The Chicago Bears are right behind them at 19.3 points per game, up from their 2019 18.6 points. When the offenses take the field, the LA Rams are the 19th-ranked NFL offense with an average of 25.3 points per game. The Chicago Bears offense is 27th-ranked in the NFL with an average of just 21.3 points per game.
On paper, this one should be a low-scoring game, and the host LA Rams should emerge with the victory. On paper, the Rams are better at passing, running, defending the pass, and defending the run. But come Monday Night Football, all that is tossed out the window. It will be the visiting 5-1 Chicago Bears taking on the 4-2 LA Rams. To both teams, this one is very important. Right now, the Bears are riding a two-game winning streak, having bested the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers. The LA Rams are seeking to get back in the win column after a disappointing loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Why this one may not be a defensive matchup
The LA Rams high powered offense was grounded against the 49ers. If you watched the game in its entirety, you witnessed the sure-handed Rams receivers play like rookies. Out of 19 passes thrown at Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, only seven were caught for 40 yards and one touchdown. The LA Rams played sub-sub-par in the latest game, and have an extra day to clean up the offense.
Don’t look for the Rams to appear confused on offense in this one. In fact, the Rams offense will likely be extensively prepared to face the Bears offense. With that added focus, the Rams will be in a great position to jump out to an early lead. While the Bears are a great NFL defense, the Rams actually match up very well against them for two reasons. The Bears allow yards but tighten up their pass defense when the opponent gets into the red zone. They do however allow rushers to move the ball and to score.
Look for the unfamiliar in this one
The LA Rams have a great deal of respect for the Chicago Bears defense. So much so that head coach Sean McVay has developed some of his best offensive plays for the Bears. So far this season, we’ve been on the watchtower awaiting signs of the Rams rookies Cam Akers and Van Jefferson to be significant contributors to the offense. So far, the watch has not spied any evidence of larger roles for either.
That could change. We know that running back Darrell Henderson ran well against the 49ers. But that also means that the Chicago Bears will strategize their defense to stop him. The Bears have some solid defenders involved in their pass rush with Khalil Mack and Akeem Hicks. They also have a stout linebacking corps. But the Rams can scheme more blockers, even to a point of going three tight ends, to even the odds.
The Rams will move the ball early and effectively in this one. At some point, the Chicago Bears will need to open up their own playbook. Any over/under at less than 50 looks promising for an over wager. These teams are familiar with one another and have good defenses. I’m no longer surprised when that translates into a high scoring contest. In fact, I now expect it.