The 6-4 Chicago Bears will try to improve their NFC North championship hopes when they travel to St. Louis to take on the 4-6 Rams Sunday.
The Bears will be without starting quarterback Jay Cutler for the third time this year and if backup Josh McCown can defeat the Rams, he’ll be a perfect 3-0 as a starter on the season. McCown has completed 61-of-101 passes for 754 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The Rams also had to turn to a backup quarterback in Kellen Clemens after starter Sam Bradford tore his ACL in a 30-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers back on October 20. Clemens is 46-of-86 for 634 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Bears are coming off an 23-20 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens while the Rams enjoyed a bye a week after dismantling the Indianapolis Colts 38-8.
The Bears’ defense is playing much better than it did earlier in the season and they will need to keep it up against a Rams’ offense that has found a couple of rookie playmakers in wide receiver Tavon Austin and running back Zac Stacey. Austin had two catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns and returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown in that victory over the Colts. Stacy has rushed for 537 yards and three touchdowns on 129 carries this season.
Although the Bears have had an excellent passing attack featuring wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey and tight end Martellus Bennett, they could have trouble protecting McCown against the Rams’ pass rushers, Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Kyle Long, Chris’ little brother, is a starting guard for the Bears.
Matt Forte, who has rushed for 774 yards and seven touches, will likely carry the load for the Bears again.
The Rams are a one-point favorite, but I like the Bears to leave St. Louis with a close victory based on the improved play of their defense and solid play from McCown.
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