Los Angeles, CA (CBSLA)- The Rams still hold out hope of making another run to the Super Bowl, but it will be a difficult road back to the postseason.
After last week’s 17-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Rams record dropped to 5-4, where they find themselves a game and a half back of the Minnesota Vikings for the Wild Card spot with seven games to go. The division race appears to be even further out of reach, with Sean McVay’s team sitting three games back of the 49ers. With a schedule that features games against the Ravens (7-2), Seahawks (8-2), Cowboys (5-4) and 49ers (8-1) it will be an uphill battle.
The first step towards righting the ship comes on Sunday, when they face a fellow playoff team from last year in the midst of an up-and-down season, the Chicago Bears. Chicago (4-5) enters Sunday on a high note, having snapped their four-game losing skid with a win over the Detroit Lions last week. However, even in victory, the Bears offense was woeful, gaining just 226 total yards and scoring only 20 points. For that reason, SportsLine senior NFL analyst Larry Hartstein feels the Rams have a bit of an edge.
“The Bears continue to defy offensive football in the 21st century. Eight times this year out of nine games they have not cracked 300 yards of offensive, which is almost impossible to do with the way the rules are now,” said Hartstein. “This is a real tough hill to climb in LA against a very elite defense that is coming into its own for the Rams. On the other side, the Rams, despite that terrible loss in Pittsburgh, have covered 10 of their last 14 overall.”
The biggest problem for the Chicago offense has been the play of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who ranks 26th in the league in passing yards and is averaging just 5.8 yards per attempt, which is a career-low. That doesn’t bode well going up against a Rams defense that has allowed more than 300 yards passing just once this season.
But, for all of the struggles the Bears have had on offense, things haven’t been much better for the Rams. This is not the same explosive unit that we saw gashing teams last season. The Rams are averaging 25 points per game, but injuries have begun to sap the unit. Running back Todd Gurley hasn’t been fully healthy all season, and the offensive line lost center Brian Allen for the season. In recent weeks, tackle Rob Havenstein and wide receiver Brandin Cooks have both popped up on the injury report.
Cooks is questionable to play after suffering a concussion, but Havenstein is expected to miss Sunday’s game due to a knee injury. That is the last thing you want when going up against the Bears pass rush featuring Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd. The Bears rank 12th in the league in sacks this season, and Rams quarterback Jared Goff has been known to struggle under pressure.
“Jared Goff does not fare well under pressure. Khalil Mack and company are going to pressure him,” said Hartstein. “This is going to be a low-scoring, grind-it-out game.”
Both teams need a win to keep their dwindling playoff hopes alive. The Rams are 6.5-point favorites over the Bears. Kick off is set for 5:20 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday.