|Bears Odds||+8 (-110)|
|Rams Odds||-8 (-110)|
|Time||8:20 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here|
Sean McVay and Matt Nagy have faced off three times, with the home team winning all three by at least nine points. All three games have been low-scoring affairs, with an average of just 26.3 points between the two teams. Will we see more of the same despite a change at quarterback on both sides?
Dalton-Led Bears Offense Could Flounder
The Justin Fields era in Chicago begins with the wrong quarterback under center in Week 1. Maybe it was because Nagy had an up-close-and-personal seat to witness Patrick Mahomes sit on the bench and blossom into the NFL’s best QB, or maybe he thought Mitchell Trubisky was already ruined by the time he inherited him in Year 2.
Maybe the rifle is always redder from the other side. But it’s no use comparing Andy Dalton to Justin Fields for the purposes of handicapping this game. What we can do is compare Dalton to what the Bears had at quarterback last year in Trubisky (Nick Foles was worse than Trubisky in his seven starts and change, so we’re not even going to include him).
- Andy Dalton: 53.4 QBR, 87.1 rating, 5.34 adjusted net yards per attempt (ANYA)
- Mitchell Trubisky: 61.3 QBR, 93.5 rating, 6.00 ANYA
While Dalton was compromised last season behind an injury-ravaged offensive line, he was still throwing to one of the best wide receiver trios in football. Offensive line is one of the foremost concerns in Chicago. PFF pegs the Bears with a bottom-five offensive line entering the season.
Dalton, like many a stationary pocket passer, struggles under pressure. Despite notching 53 sacks last season, the second-most in the NFL, the Rams surprisingly ranked only 17th in pressure rate (23.4%), according to PFF, indicating they were more of a coverage sack team.
The Rams, of course, have the ability to cover the Bears’ top receiving threat, Allen Robinson II. Robinson accounted for 31.8% of the Bears’ receiving yards and 23.1% of their receiving touchdowns a year ago, but he was limited to a season-low four targets when these teams met last year. Even though he turned them into 70 (scoreless) yards, it didn’t help the Bears’ listless offense in what ended up as a 24-10 loss. In 2019, Robinson managed only four catches for 15 yards on six targets.
The drop-off at defensive coordinator from Brandon Staley to Raheem Morris should be minimal, if there is a drop-off at all. That’s both because Morris is one of the better defensive minds in the game and because not many teams have a cornerback like Jalen Ramsey or a defensive tackle like Aaron Donald.
Stafford & McVay To Upgrade Rams Offense
The Bears have always held their own on defense against the Rams in the Nagy/McVay era, holding them to six, 17 and 24 points. That trend may continue going in the wrong direction for Chicago under first-year coordinator Sean Desai.
With a quarterback whom he trusts to make all the throws, it’s hard to envision McVay not scheming up ways for Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and DeSean Jackson to run circles around the Bears’ inexperienced cornerbacks. After losing Kyle Fuller to the Broncos, the Bears’ top corner is Jaylon Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick who will be counted on to make a huge leap after earning a grade of just 54.9 from PFF last season, which ranked 84th of 121 qualified corners.
Joining Johnson in the starting lineup will be Kindle Vildor, a 2020 fifth-round pick who graded miserably last season (45.9). The slot will be manned by Duke Shelley, a 2019 sixth-round pick who also graded poorly (57.9) and took a step back from his rookie year (64.9).
For what it’s worth, Matthew Stafford erupted for a season-high 402 yards when he last faced this defense in Week 13 of last season as a member of the Lions in a 34-30 comeback win. Stafford won’t have to light up the scoreboard because his defense is unlikely to give up 30 points — in fact, it may not even give up half of that. The Bears are averaging just 10.6 points in the last three meetings with the Rams, and now they may have downgraded at quarterback.
The Rams have the edge at head coach, quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line and cornerback. They’ve outscored the Bears 41-17 in the last two meetings and may be facing the worst iteration of the Bears yet in the Nagy era.
I make this line -8 and the total 45. I see the Bears’ front seven keeping the game respectable in Stafford’s debut, but I don’t see the Bears scoring enough points to keep them within one possession or getting this game over the total. I wouldn’t bet the line past 7.5, but I’d tease it down to -2.5 if it got as high as -8.5. I like the under down to 45.5.
Pick: Rams -7.5 (+100) | Under 46.5 (+100) at PointsBet