Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears: Odds and Predictions (NFL Week 14)
The 11-1 Los Angeles Rams:
With the exception of their single loss in Week 9 to the NFCs other best team, the 11-1 Los Angeles Rams have spent the entire 2018 season winning, all while conducting an entertaining touchdown scoring clinic for the rest of the league to see.
The Rams third-year quarterback Jared Goff has the leagues fourth most passing yards (3,754) along with 27 touchdowns and only 7 picks, one of those thrown last week in their victory over the Detroit Lions, 30-16.
Los Angeles is 5-1 on the road and 7-1 against AFC opponents, but theyre a west coast team playing in the Midwest winter so this matchup could end up being closer than it looks.
The 8-4 Chicago Bears:
Right out of the Week 13 gate it didnt look too good for the 8-4 Chicago Bears, their backup quarterback Chase Daniel throwing a pick-six on the second play of the game that the New York Giants went on to win 30-27.
Bears starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky has missed two weeks due to a hurt shoulder, but the good news is head coach Matt Nagy has expressed optimism that Trubisky could play in Week 14 against the Rams.
Chicago is 5-1 at home and 6-2 against NFC teams, and since theyll be playing in the familiar cold against a team thats more comfortable at the beach, this game could go either way.
Whats at stake:
These two teams have met 92 times (including 2 postseason games), with Chicago winning 53 games and Los Angeles winning 36 games. They have also tied 3 times. The Bears have won five of their last six meetings, their most recent encounter a victory in November of 2015 when the Bears won 37-13. This will be the first time these two teams will play since the Rams moved to Los Angeles.
If the Rams win this matchup, their record will be 12-1 and theyll stay high atop the NFC West and remain the NFCs number one seed in the playoffs.
But if the Bears come out on top, theyll be 9-4 and stay at least two games ahead of the Vikings in the NFC North and remain the NFCs third seed in the playoffs.
Questions to answer
Whos favored to win this Week 14 Rams-Bears matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which teams quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
Were going to compare the Rams and the Bears and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Rams offense is ranked 2nd in the NFL
The Rams offense is scoring the second-highest average points per game in the NFL with 34.9 using a 4th ranked passing attack that throws for 300.5 yards per game and a 4th ranked run game that moves the ball 139.4 yards per outing.
With second-year star wide receiver Cooper Kupp (ACL) and Mike Thomas (groin) both on the injured reserve list, Josh Reynolds has had to step up with receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.
Also helping to fill the Kupp void is tight end Tyler Higbee, who has caught 19-of-28 for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Rams rushing attack all Gurley
Running back Todd Gurley is having another standout season, leading the NFL in rushing yards (1,175) and rushing touchdowns (15), averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
Gurley has also pitched in with 46 receptions for 474 yards and 4 more touchdowns.
Last week against the Lions, in an incredibly unselfish move to burn the clock at the end of the fourth quarter, Gurley gave up a touchdown run and let himself get tackled at the three yard line, though he eventually ran in for the touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.
Los Angeles offensive Injuries
Running back Malcolm Brown (clavicle) is listed as out and is expected to have a medical procedure that requires 8-to-10 weeks for recovery.
Wide receiver Kendal Thompson (undisclosed) was waived off the injured reserve by the Rams on Tuesday.
The 2018 Bears offense is ranked 20th overall
On average, the Bears score 28.7 points and move the ball 351.6 total yards per game with a 19th ranked passing attack and a 16th rank running game.
If Trubisky can play, the goal should be to keep him safer against the Rams than the team did quarterback Daniel against the Giants in Week 13 who sacked the scrambling backup no less than 5 times.
Chicagos main offensive targets in the air are receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller along with tight end Trey Burton, though the leading receiver against the Giants was running back Tarik Cohen.
Chicagos run game helps their pass game
The Chicago Bears have two running backs that can split between the running and passing game Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
Howard is in his third NFL year and has 718 total yards from scrimmage with 5 touchdowns.
Cohen is a second-year player who has 974 yards from scrimmage with 6 touchdowns and who handles the Bears punt returns (see below).
Chicago offensive Injuries
Running back Benny Cunningham (ankle) is listed as questionable and was a limited participant in Wednesdays practice.
Rams Defense ranks 18th in the league
The Rams will have the weaker defense in 30 degree weather at Soldier Field, on average allowing opponents to score 24.8 points and gain 367.5 total yards per game.
Los Angeles rushing defense is ranked 18th, while their passing defense is a notch better at 17th, the Rams tied for 12th most team sacks (33) and tied for 11th most interceptions (11).
Rams Defensive Players to watch:
Inside linebacker Cory Littleton has 95 combined tackles, tied for 12th most in the league, and strong safety John Johnson has 85 tackles, tied for 24th most overall.
Johnson also has 8 passes defended, a forced fumble and 3 interceptions.
Make sure to keep your eyes on arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, Aaron Donald, who leads the league in sacks with 16.5, and also has 43 combined tackles (20 for loss), 32 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a pass defended.
Bears Defense is 4th overall
Opponents of the Bears average just 20.1 points and move the ball just 317.9 total yards per game with a rushing defense ranked 2nd but with a passing defense ranked 11th.
Chicago has the most interceptions (21) in the NFL and is tied for the fifth most sacks (37).
Bears Defensive Players to watch:
Rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith has 91 tackles (18th most in the NFL) and veteran inside linebacker Danny Trevathan has 85 tackles (tied for 24th most).
Next to Smith is All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who has 9.0 sacks, 33 tackles (7 for loss), 11 quarterback hits, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and Mack returned a 27-yard interception for a touchdown.
If you like seeing interceptions, watch the Bears secondary with cornerback Kyle Fuller, whos tied for the second most interceptions in the NFL with 6, as well as free safety Eddie Jackson, whos tied for fourth most picks with 4.
Bears defensive injuries could be a factor
Safety Deon Bush (hamstring) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring) are both listed as questionable for Week 14.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
L.A.s veteran All-Pro punter, Johnny Hekker, was First-team All-Pro last season and has punted 32 times but for a net average of 41.8 yards per punt, ranked 7th in the NFL.
Chicagos punter, Pat ODonnell, is a fifth year pro who has punted 46 times for a net average of 39.3 yards per punt, ranked 24th in the NFL.
L.A.s placekicker, Greg Zuerlin, was First-team All-Pro last season but due to a groin injury, hes missed five games this season. Zuerlin is now back in the lineup, and so far hes 19-for-21, his longest a 56-yarder.
Zuerlin has missed one extra point attempt (23/24).
Chicagos placekicker, Cody Parkey, was a free agent pickup this offseason and has gone 19-for-24, his longest was a 50-yarder.
Parkey has missed two extra point attempts (35/37), both in a Week 10 game where he also missed two field goals, all four kicks hitting the uprights.
L.A.s punt returner, wide receiver JoJo Natson, is ranked 10th in the league in return average.
Natson has returned 20 punts for 245 yards, averaging 12.3 yards per return, his longest for 60 yards.
Chicagos punt returner, running back Tarik Cohen, is ranked T-11th in the league.
Cohen has returned 28 punts for 338 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 12.1 yards per return, his longest for 42 yards.
RamsBears prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Rams favored over the Bears by 3 with an over/under of 51.5.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Rams 27, Bears 21
John Breech takes the under and predicts it Rams 26, Bears 23