The Chicago Bears will invade LA to take on the new-look Rams as they kick off their respective seasons in an NFC showdown on Sunday night. Let’s analyze this Week 1 matchup and end the week by cashing our NFL picks!
Chicago Bears vs. LA Rams
Sunday, September 12, 2021 – 8:20 PM ET at SoFi Stadium
The Bears are entering the 2021 campaign after a middling 8-8 season and will hope to regroup with either veteran Andy Dalton or first-round pick and former Ohio State star, Justin Fields, commanding the offense. As of this writing, the word is that Dalton will get the starting nod in Week 1 but his leash will be shorter than virtually all of the opening week starters around the league.
Head coach Matt Nagy has been cagey about his choice but Dalton seems to have done enough to convince his coach that he is the right man for the job…at least until he isn’t. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement but if Fields is to have a successful NFL career, and longevity in the Windy City, then a case could easily be made that he is better off holding a clipboard and learning all about the game at the next level than a baptism by fire which has had deleterious effects for many young quarterbacks.
Defensively, the Bears appear more than sound with Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks as stalwarts on that side of the ball but their secondary could be susceptible with the departure of Kyle Fuller. Yet, a fierce pass rush can go a long way towards taking the heat off of the corners and safeties so this might not be as glaring a weakness on this team versus others.
Stafford New Man Under Center in LA
Matthew Stafford has toiled in NFL purgatory (some might say hell) over his 12 years with the lackluster Detroit Lions. But the Rams decided the 33-year-old gunslinger was worth swapping quarterbacks with the Lions and sent Jared Goff as well as a pair of first-round picks to Motown his services.
Los Angeles has built their team around a stout defense but their offense was always a bit tenuous under Goff’s stewardship. That should change dramatically this year and if it does, the Rams will be a force to be reckoned with throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.
This could be the first time in Stafford’s professional career that he has an upper-echelon offensive line protecting him which will allow him time in the pocket to reach his talented targets, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp while having a rookie wideout in Tutu Atwell that has 4.32 speed.
The running game is a question mark but acquiring Sony Michele from the Patriots will bolster their rushing attack as he is expected to share duties with former Memphis back, Darrell Henderson Jr. LA’s projected starter, Cam Akers, went down with a ruptured Achilles and is likely done for the season.
Wanna Make a Bet?
After perusing the NFL odds at some of the best online sportsbooks, we see that the Rams are favored by 7 ½ to 9 points over the woeful Lions. It looks like easy pickin’s to me but full disclosure, I am an unabashed Matthew Stafford fan and can’t imagine he won’t flourish under a savvy head coach like Sean McVay with so many weapons at his disposal.
Do the Bears really have the offensive chops to keep pace with what should be a high-flying Rams offense? I don’t see it, although Chicago’s defense could come alive and keep this one within the margins. Nevertheless, the thinking here is that whatever the Bears can do, the Rams can do better and that goes for both sides of the ball.
But the question remains, is that disparity worth laying north of a touchdown? I can tell you that the public will be salivating to bet the Rams and that always scares me. However, Joe Q. Public is not always wrong and I’m siding with the great unwashed masses on this one.
Free NFL Pick: Rams -7 ½ (-105) at BetMGM