coleryan Posts:11961 Followers:19
On 11/18/2013 04:34 PM in NFL

Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams: Preview and Pick

Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams: Preview and Pick

The Chicago Bears had to beat the Baltimore Ravens and the weather to get a win last weekend. Now they will play in a dome this week and avoid the inclement weather when they play the well rested St. Louis Rams. The Rams are still on the outside of the playoffs but if they are able to string a few wins together, they could make a run at the NFL post season.

Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game has a Pick ‘em for both squads. This is a strong indication that this game will be closely contested. The early wagering has slightly favored the Bears at 54 percent. The line has slightly shifted in favor of the Rams and can now be found at Rams (-1) at several of the offshore sportsbooks.

If the Bears want to beat the Rams they will need to play mistake free football. By halftime of Sunday's game, the Bears had already topped the season-high six penalties they were flagged during an Oct. 6 loss to the New Orleans Saints, with seven for 61 yards against the Ravens. For the game, the Bears racked up 13 penalties for 111 yards. Bears coach Marc Trestman has established a standard of fairly penalty-free play in Chicago because he knows unnecessary penalties are one of the easiest ways to give away ballgames. It needs to stop. They do howeer look good on defense.

Julius Peppers sacked Flacco twice, marking the 24th time (sixth time with the Bears) he's collected at least two sacks in a game. Peppers needs to continue producing and being a disruptive force. Peppers can make a difference in this game and take down the Rams.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal some very interesting trends. The total has gone under in 4 of Chicago's last 5 games when playing on the road against St. Louis and Chicago is 4-1 straight up in its last 5 games when playing St. Louis. Chicago is 4-2 straight up in its last 6 games on the road and2-4-1 straight up in its last 7 games. St. Louis is 1-5 against the spread (ATS) in its last 6 games when playing Chicago and 3-7 against the spread (ATS) in its last 10 games at home. The total has gone over in 6 of St. Louis's last 7 games and the Rams are 3-6 straight up in its last 9 games.

Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:11961 Followers:19
11/19/2013 01:58 PM

When the St. Louis Rams come back to work on Wednesday, after being granted five days off to enjoy their bye week by head coach Jeff Fisher, the team’s focus will be solely on the Chicago Bears.

The Rams (4-6) will host the Bears (6-4), Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in a matchup of clubs that are both looking to make a push for the playoffs — only six teams will get into the postseason from NFC. Chicago is currently in eighth place, while St. Louis is in 12th.

And while the Rams enjoyed having the weekend off following their best win of the season – 38-8 two Sundays ago in Indianapolis – the Bears will come to town Sunday coming off a thrilling win of their own, after beating the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in overtime.

- Chicago on Offense

The Bears, who are ranked No. 9 overall in total offense, have perhaps the most balanced offensive attack St. Louis will see this season.

Chicago is 10th in the league in passing (257.0 yards/game), while also ranking 18th in rushing (110.3 yards/game).

Quarterback Jay Cutler was ruled out for the second straight week with a sprained ankle, but backup Josh McCown has been superb in Cutler’s absence, passing for 754 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions in three starts plus some fourth-quarter relief man duty two weeks ago when Cutler aggravated his injury against Detroit.

Running back Matt Forte is having another fine season for Chicago as well.

The sixth-year man out of Tulane is sixth in the league in rushing, with 774 yards and seven touchdowns.

But the Bears have been most dangerous when they put the ball in the air, where receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have been perhaps the best WR tandem in the league.

Marshall, a four-time Pro Bowler who had 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, leads Chicago in those categories again, with 64 receptions for 828 yards and eight scores.

Jeffery, whose in his second season out of South Carolina, is just behind with 54 catches for 818 yards and three touchdowns.

Chicago has also gotten outstanding play from its tight end, former Dallas Cowboys second round pick Martellus Bennett, who has 42 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns.

Bennett made the key play in the win over Baltimore when he fought off two defenders for a 43-yard catch-and-run that put Chicago in range for its game-winning field goal.

- Chicago on Defense

Defensively, the Bears have been nowhere near their reputation as “The Monsters of the Midway.”

Chicago ranks in the bottom third of the league in overall defense (24th to be exact), with a middle-of-the-pack No. 17 rating in pass defense and an absolutely atrocious 31st (second-worst in the league) ranking on run defense.

The Bears “D” has really struggled with injuries — the most significant of which has been to Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, who fractured his shoulder a couple of weeks ago. And just last week, standout cornerback Charles Tillman tore his right triceps and might be done for the season himself.

- Recent History

Chicago leads the all-time series with the Rams, 52-35-3 and has won the last four in a row, including a 23-16 win over St. Louis last season.

Among those four straight wins, the Bears have won the last two played between the clubs in St. Louis. In 2008, Chicago nearly blanked St. Louis 27-3, and in 2006, the Bears’ Devin Hester returned two kicks for touchdowns in a 42-27 Monday Night Football victory over the Rams.

St. Louis’ last win over the Bears came in 2003, when the Rams rallied to win on a last-second field goal by Jeff Wilkins.

coleryan Posts:11961 Followers:19
11/20/2013 08:39 PM

The last time that Kyle and Chris Long went against each other in an athletic competition was in an unofficial truck-pushing event this summer in the driveway of their family's home in Montana.

The two brothers were training to get ready for their respective NFL training camps.

Kyle and Chris' dad, Howie, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, got into the spirit of the competition by helping mark off the distance with a can of spray paint and then serving as the timer.

"We had just finished a long-distance run in which Chris smoked me, let me just get that out there before I tell you this next part," said Kyle Long, the rookie right guard for the Chicago Bears.

"We were supposed to push a truck let's say 20 yards, and Chris got up and pushed it in 10 seconds. I got up and pushed it in like 9.8 (seconds), so that's my claim to fame. He was pissed!"

"No, I'm not pissed about it. As a matter of fact, I forgot about it," said Chris Long, the left defensive end for the St. Louis Rams. "When I adjusted the formula to include his mass, I actually won the competition because he outweighed me by 50 pounds and he only beat me by (a few tenths of) a second."

Kyle and Chris Long will be playing on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage this Sunday when the Bears (6-4) visit the Rams (4-6) at the Edward Jones Dome.

"To say I haven't been looking forward to this since the minute I got drafted, I'd be lying to you guys," Kyle Long said in a conference call with St Louis media. "I knew Nov. 24 was the date right after Chris put his I-phone right in my face after I got off the phone with the Bears. He had the schedule pulled up already."

The two won't be lining up directly on each other, but there are in close enough proximity that could lock horns on occasion.

"He'll definitely be in my 'periphs,"' Kyle Long said. "I'll see him. I wouldn't be surprised if he is lined up over me a couple of times to try and get me out of my element. It's football still. There is still assignments that need to executed. The goal is winning the game. The beautiful thing will be getting to hug my brother afterward."

Chris Long said his younger brother has always been more athletic than him.

"You're always competing against your brother, but I always know that my brother is capable of being better than me at anything he wants to be, including football," Chris Long said. "It's not really a competition. I'm just trying to hang in there because he has so much God-given ability. He was always great at baseball, basketball, whatever he wanted to do."

Kyle Long was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, but he didn't sign.

"He was a phenomenal Little League player," Chris Long said. "I remember he hit a home run right to us, and literally I caught it. I had to defend myself, he hit the baseball so hard. He was one of the best baseball players I have ever been around. I remember him hitting balls so far it was ridiculous. He was a lefty (pitcher) that could throw in the mid-to-low 90's."

Kyle Long went to the University of Oregon to play football. He was taken by the Bears in the first round (20th overall pick) of the 2013 NFL Draft, and he's started every game as a rookie this season.

"He has something you can't coach, which is he plays like a bad dude," Chris Long said. "I love the way he plays the game. If I were to step back and see who is No. 75 for the Bears and it wasn't my brother, I'd say, 'I like the way this guy plays."'

Kyle Long said it has been strange preparing to play against the Rams and his older brother.

"I've been watching these guys for years," Kyle Long said. "I think I was literally the biggest Rams fan there was until I got drafted. Now I am looking at the Rams from a scouting side of things in preparation for our game. It's weird when the coaches are going over depth chart in our offensive meetings, and they start talking about Chris Long. I say, 'I know that guy."'

The entire Long family -- Howie and his wife, Diane, as well as Kyle and Chris' younger brother, Howard, Jr., 23 -- will be attending the game.

Howie Long was given Sunday off from his job as a studio analyst for Fox.

"He hasn't had a day off from Fox in forever, and they are actually allowing him to go watch his boys play," Kyle Long said. "The entire family will be there. It's really special. I am super thankful and blessed to be in this position."

The Long brothers are close. They're in contact by telephone every day, but this week actually has been more a time for reflection than trash talk.

"Getting an opportunity to reflect a little bit about what we've been through to get us here," Kyle Long said. "Now we're here, two brothers who are about to square off in St. Louis."

coleryan Posts:11961 Followers:19
11/21/2013 10:32 AM

While the Chicago Bears have fared well with a backup starting under center, the St. Louis Rams hope their second-string quarterback can increase the team's momentum with a second straight victory coming out of their bye week.

Josh McCown looks to go 3-0 as a starter for the visiting Bears as they try for a fifth consecutive victory over the Rams on Sunday.

While Jay Cutler continues to nurse an ankle injury, Chicago (6-4) is more than comfortable with McCown leading the way. The 34-year-old journeyman and the Bears endured a lengthy weather delay and some harsh conditions at times Sunday to post a 23-20 overtime home win over Baltimore that moved them into a first-place tie with Detroit atop the NFC North.

In four games, and two starts, McCown has thrown for 754 yards with five TDs, no interceptions and posted a 100.0 passer rating in place of the banged-up Cutler, who remains the team's No. 1 quarterback.

"I'm the backup quarterback on this team, and the way that I serve my team is to play when the starter's not healthy," McCown said. "Jay's our starting quarterback. There's no doubt about that."

Though McCown has been solid while guiding an offense that ranks third in the league averaging 28.2 points, it's Chicago's injury-ravaged defense that has made strides of late despite missing starters Lance Briggs (shoulder), Charles Tillman (triceps), Henry Melton (knee) and D.J. Williams (chest).

The Bears allowed an average of 29.4 points through the first seven games but 20.3 while winning two of the last three.

Last weekend, Chicago held the Ravens to 317 total yards and a tying field goal when the visitors had first-and-goal from the 5-yard line with 36 seconds left in regulation. Julius Peppers had two of the Bears' three sacks and rookie defensive end David Bass returned an interception 24 yards for a TD.

"I like the fact that our coaches are embracing the development of our young players," said first-year coach Marc Trestman, whose team has not won consecutive games since starting 3-0. "We're not spending time thinking about the loss of some of the players that we've lost. We've taken all that energy into building the best defense we can to play good team football."

Trestman hopes to see improvement against the run, where the Bears rank 31st - giving up 133.9 yards per game - and have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three straight and four of five. They could face another challenge against St. Louis rookie Zac Stacy, who has a team-leading 537 yards, and scored three times in the last two contests.

Stacy, however, was held to 62 yards on 26 carries in a 38-8 win at Indianapolis on Nov. 10 after he gained 261 on 53 attempts in the previous two games.

If Chicago can contain Stacy, it could have a better chance of getting to Kellen Clemens, who is coming off his first victory in three starts since taking over for the injured Sam Bradford. Clemens has completed 53.5 percent of his passes in four games, but was 9 of 16 for 247 yards and threw two of his three TDs without a pick during the upset at Indianapolis.

"I think I've gotten more comfortable with each rep, both in practice and in games," Clemens told the Rams' official website. "I think I've gotten more comfortable each week, and hopefully we can continue to make plays and be effective on offense."

Clemens' scoring passes against the Colts came on strikes of 57 and 81 yards to rookie Tavon Austin, who also returned a punt 98 yards for a TD.

While a St. Louis (4-6) offense that ranks 27th averaging 316.5 yards hopes to build on that solid performance, its defense looks for a second straight strong effort as well.

Helping to snap a three-game skid, Robert Quinn recorded two of his career-high 12 sacks and Chris Long returned a fumble 45 yards for a TD. The Rams also picked off Andrew Luck three times and held the Colts to 18 rushing yards after Tennessee ran for 198 during a 28-21 loss the week before.

"(Coach Jeff Fisher) and (general manager) Les (Snead) have done a great job of tailoring the personnel to what they like, and getting people that were the perfect fit," Quinn said.

"We've had our ups and downs, but every week we're pretty much in the game, and it starts upstairs.''

St. Louis has often struggled defensively while being outscored 109-45 during a four-game skid to the Bears.

An ankle injury kept Matt Forte out of Chicago's 23-6 home win over the Rams last season, but he's run for 230 yards and averaged 5.1 per carry while scoring three TDs in two career games against them.

coleryan Posts:11961 Followers:19
11/22/2013 01:40 PM

The Chicago Bears will try to keep pace in the tight NFC North when they visit the St. Louis Rams Sunday.

The Bears and Detroit Lions both have identical 6-4 records and the Green Bay Packers are right behind at 5-5. The Bears will not have quarterback Jay Cutler on Sunday because of a high ankle sprain suffered in a Week 10 loss to the Lions and he missed this past Sunday's 23-20 overtime win versus Baltimore.

Cutler left Chicago's 45-41 loss against the Washington Redskins in Week 7 with a torn muscle in his groin and returned to action against Detroit three weeks later before exiting with the ankle injury.

Josh McCown, who has made two starts and two relief appearances this season in place of Cutler, has completed 61-of-101 passes for 754 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Bears are 2-0 in McCown's starts, but Cutler will return to the starting role when healthy.

"Jay is the quarterback of our football team and Josh is our backup, and all three of us know that," Bears coach Marc Trestman said Monday.

In a game delayed for almost two hours because of a lightning storm, McCown passed for 216 yards and a touchdown and Matt Forte had a busy day with 83 yards rushing on 18 carries and 42 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. Robbie Gould nailed a 38-yard field goal in overtime to win it for Chicago, which has alternated results in the last six contests.

Chicago rallied from a 10-0 deficit at halftime and defensive end David Bass had a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter to key the comeback.

"We always talk to our players about creating turnovers and not turning the ball over, and we did a very good job of that today," Trestman said. "I think that allowed us to stay in the game and be in the game."

The Bears will play two straight and four of the next five games on the road, and are 2-2 away from Soldier Field.

St. Louis is coming off its bye week and halted a three-game slide with an improbable 38-8 rout of the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 10. The Rams picked off Andrew Luck three times and had four interceptions on the afternoon, while sack master Robert Quinn posted two sacks. Quinn is second in the NFL with 12 sacks, behind Indy's Robert Mathis.

Kellen Clemens threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns and rookie Tavon Austin ended with 138 yards and two scores on just two catches. Austin had a 57-yard score and an 81-yard touchdown for the Rams, who are 4-6 on the season.

"I knew the day was going to come," Austin said. "It was just me being patient and me being true to myself and to keep working. I'm just glad that I had an opportunity."

Zac Stacy carried the ball 26 times for 62 yards and a score in the win.

Clemens, meanwhile, has played well since starting quarterback Sam Bradford was lost for the season in Week 7.

"I think I've gotten more comfortable with each rep, both in practice and in games," Clemens said last week. "Fortunately, we were able to get a win on Sunday. I think I've gotten more comfortable each week, and hopefully we can continue to make plays and be effective on offense."

The Rams trail the all-time series with Chicago, 35-52-3, and have lost the last four meetings between the teams. In the previous meeting between the teams on Sept. 23, 2012, the Bears recorded a 23-6 victory at Soldier Field.

coleryan Posts:11961 Followers:19
11/22/2013 01:41 PM

With Cutler still nursing an ankle injury, McCown will handle snaps in the Gateway City. McCown is a reliable veteran who has plenty of weapons at his disposal in Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

The Bears have faith in McCown, especially now in November when wins are crucial and teams begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

"Josh is a leader," Marshall said. "He's one of our captains even though he doesn't have a 'C' on his chest. He's awesome. He's been awesome for us. You can't ask for a better guy to lead the huddle."

Bears center Robert Garza agreed with Marshall's sentiments.

"Josh is a long-time pro," Garza said. "He knows what it takes to get ready for a football game. Without taking any reps and a new offense the entire season, to be able to step in and do what he has, it's a tribute to his preparation and the coaching staff getting him ready for the game."

McCown completed 9 of his 11 passes for 132 yards and 1 TD in the fourth quarter and overtime versus the Ravens.

The Rams are hoping to keep their defensive swagger after what they did to the Colts a few weeks back. Quinn will try to add to his sack total and linebacker James Laurinaitis keeps the defense intact.

"I take a lot of pride in my preparation and taking care of my body and being available," Laurinaitis said on the team's website. "I take a lot of pride in being a guy that, when coaches go to bed at night, they're not worried about if I'm going to be in the right gap or whether I'm going to make the right checks on my calls. They have other people to worry about and I've always prided myself on that."

Chicago will have to worry about the athletic Laurinaitis, who leads the Rams with 75 tackles. He had eight stops against the Colts and one of the defenses four interceptions. Laurinaitis and cornerback Trumaine Johnson lead St. Louis with two picks apiece.

Rams veteran defensive end Chris Long will face his younger brother, Kyle, who is a rookie guard for the Bears. Chris Long has 6 1/2 sacks this season.

"It's a dream come true for me to be able to look across the line of scrimmage and think my older brother and I are two of the few people on this earth to play in the NFL," Kyle Long said. "We're privileged and blessed."