The Chicago Bears have made it a point to step up against some of the NFC’s best teams so far this season, but on Monday they’ll be on the big stage as they take on the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.
The Bears, currently sitting at 5-1, can vault into first place in the NFC if they can take down the Rams at SoFi Stadium, and they’re hoping that their recent run of success can propel them into that spot.
Here are three keys to victory for the Bears as they embark on the quest for 6-1.
Stopping the Rams’ Rushing Attack
Most people will look at the Rams and assume that they’re a high-flying offense piloted by quarterback Jared Goff and guided by head coach Sean McVay. While part of that assumption is true, with the Rams averaging 388.2 yards per game, the reality is that the team’s rushing attack has been a big component to their success so far this season.
The club is averaging 135.2 yards per game on the ground this season, with Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown doing most of the heavy lifting for Los Angeles. Henderson is averaging nearly five yards per carry this season, with 58 yards per game to his credit.
While the Bears are one of the league’s best pass defenses, limiting teams to 224.2 yards per game, they’ll have to make sure that their run defense is up to snuff in this one, and that will involve getting good games from players like Bilal Nichols and Roy Robertson-Harris.
Keeping Nick Foles Upright
The Bears know all about having a solid pass rush, boasting players like Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks, but the Rams have been one of the league’s best teams in terms of getting to the quarterback this season, racking up a combined 20 sacks on the year.
A big part of that is a gentleman named Aaron Donald, with whom Bears fans might be familiar. After all, it was Donald who had a pair of sacks in the Rams’ 2019 victory over the Bears on Sunday Night Football, and he hasn’t slowed down one bit this year, registering 7.5 sacks in just six games for Los Angeles.
With the Bears trying to work Rashaad Coward and Alex Bars into the mix, they’re already going to be fighting a tough battle on their offensive line, and they’ll have to come up with some creative ways to get the ball out quickly, to get the run game going, and to keep Donald from having a field day under the bright lights of Monday night.
Get to Jared Goff Early and Often
The Bears do have some very good pass rushers, but they’re in for a tough task on Monday, as the Rams have allowed just seven sacks in their first six games this season.
The Bears as a team have 15 sacks this season, with Mack and Hicks combining for eight on the young season. Those two will be key to the team’s pass rush, but the club could also use a coming out party for Robert Quinn, who has just one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss so far this season.
The big-ticket free agent was viewed as a key player to create matchup nightmares for opposing offenses, giving Mack additional shots at quarterbacks. He has done that, but he’ll need to apply some pressure of his own if the Bears want to upset Goff’s quick timing.