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Possibly the best matchup of the Week 14 NFL slate here as the Los Angeles Rams travel to take on the Chicago Bears. The Rams have been even better this year than they were last year, and are in the driver’s seat for the number one seed in the NFC playoffs. The Bears were on a roll, but lost a game they needed to win last week against the lowly Giants. It looks like they’ll be getting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky back for this one, and oddsmakers have the Rams as three-point favorites.
The Rams’ offense somehow took another leap forward this year and has looked unstoppable at times. They’ve mostly cruised to an 11-1 record, and have several signature wins. With the Saints losing last week, the Rams are now in the driver’s seat for the number one seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but can’t afford to lose any more games moving forward since the Saints have the head-to-head tiebreaker over them.
One interesting nugget for this game that I discovered while doing my handicapping is that the Rams are a perfect 4-0 in primetime games since Sean McVay took over as coach. In those four games, Jared Goff has completed 97 of 143 passes for 1,403 yards (9.8 YPA), 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s played his best in those games when the lights are bright, although it must be noted that three of those games (49ers, Raiders, Chiefs) came against pretty weak defenses.
They’ll face a much tougher defense here in a Bears unit that has been one of the best in the league. The Rams’ offensive line has been playing at an elite level, but faces a very tough Chicago pass-rush here. Goff has been great this season for the most part, but has really struggled when defenses have been able to get consistent pressure. That will undoubtedly be the key to this matchup here, and I think defensive end Khalil Mack could make things really tough on Goff. If Mack and Leonard Floyd can get through consistently, you’ll see Goff start to get frantic and very sloppy with the ball. He now has multiple turnovers in back-to-back games, and can definitely be rattled.
Bears Drop Tough One
The Bears had just won five straight games and looked fine without Mitchell Trubisky on Thanksgiving, but then dropped a disappointing game to the Giants last week. Chase Daniel melted down and threw a pick-six that ended up being the difference in the game, so Bears fans are surely anxious for the return of Trubisky this week. Trubisky is returning from a throwing shoulder injury, so there could be some rust or residual effects of the injury, but the team wouldn’t let him return at anything less than 100 percent.
Trubisky hasn’t been great as a passer this season, but first-year coach Matt Nagy has done a tremendous job scheming guys open and making things simple for him. Trubisky has also been great as a runner this year, making opposing defenses account for his legs as well as his arm. The Rams did get cornerback Aqib Talib back last week after a long absence, making the matchup much more difficult for Trubisky.
These are the type of cutback runs that Jordan Howard would regularly execute his 1st two seasons. Has Harry Hiestand adjusted blocking scheme? pic.twitter.com/LJ5VCawNya
— Bears Barroom (@BearsBarroom) December 2, 2018
The key here for the Bears offense will be establishing their ground game. Early on this season, the Bears were a fairly balanced offense, but they’ve really struggled to run the ball lately. The Rams have been very bad defending the run, so it’s important the Bears take advantage. Jordan Howard has been MIA in recent weeks, and he’ll need to step up here and get out to a hot start to make things easier for Trubisky. Howard has only topped 70 yards rushing twice since Week 1, but showed some life last week against the Giants. I think the Bears will give him more opportunities this week, and if he can get going the Bears should be able to pull this one out.
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall
- 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 home games
- 2-6-1 ATS in their last 9 games overall
- 0-3-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like the Bears a lot here. They’re 15-5-1 against the spread in their last 21 home games, and the Rams quietly haven’t been very good at covering numbers recently despite their 11-1 record. The Rams are a west coast team that won’t be used to this Chicago cold weather, and the home-field advantage will really matter here. The Bears will cover this number and win this game outright as well.
Prediction: Bears +3
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the under a lot here. The Rams’ offense has been amazing this year, but I think they’ll have a letdown here. They haven’t played a defense anywhere near this good yet this season, let alone on the road in cold weather. The pass-rush of the Bears will rattle Goff, and I think the Rams won’t put up anywhere near as many points as oddsmakers expect. The Bears will want to make things easy for Trubisky in his return, and should be running the ball a ton here which will bleed clock.