Football

The 2019 LA Rams started the season with Super Bowl aspirations; but thru nine games, they are treading water. The walls are closing in quickly and the doubters have been out in full force. Rams QB Jared Goff is currently ground zero for criticism and his offensive line is among the worst units in the league. This all sounds too maddening familiar, doesn’t it?

Goff is averaging 292 passing yards per game, good for 6th best in the league; this is clearly not the issue. What is killing the Rams is Goff’s 11-9 TD to INT ratio, which is near the bottom of the league and comparable to the great Sam Darnold, Andy Dalton, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The TD/INT numbers are especially shocking given his 2017 and 2018 Pro Bowl seasons where threw for 60 TDs and 19 INTs combined.

Coming off the two previous seasons where he was a combined 24-7 as a starter, this year’s 5-4 mark screams Super Bowl hangover. It has also raised the big question we are asking here in Chicago: “Has this offense been figured out?” This question was asked even louder with last weeks loss to the Steelers, where the Rams scored 12 points. Coming off a bye week.

Right now, the Rams are elated they are playing in a market that really doesn’t give a fuck about sports. If they were here, or Philly, or New York, or Boston – this teams struggles would be front and center every day; which in turn, would magnify the way Jared Goff has given balls away like he’s Bruce Jenner.

So, after reading all of this, do the Bears have a chance this Sunday? Maybe. This isn’t the 2018 Bears defense, far from it, but last year, Goff had the worst game of his career against Vic’s Fangio’s guys – throwing four INTs and completing only 20-44 for 180 yards.

If he wants to redeem himself from last years abortion, Goff is going to rely heavily on WR Cooper Kupp, who not surprisingly, is a white guy. But Kupp is coming off a game last week where he and I had the same numbers of catches. What makes last week’s performance even more bizarre is that Kupp went for 220 receiving yards the game before. Look for Goff to make Kupp a priority early and often on Sunday and expect big things from the tandem.

Additionally, look for a big game from Robert Woods, who will get a lot more looks with Brandin Cooks out this week. Woods has yet to see the endzone this year, but with almost 13 yards per catch on 45 receptions, it’s only a matter of time until Woods scores six.

Tight end Gerald Everett ranks in the top-10 at his position with 34 catches for an average of 11 yards per catch and over 40 yards per game. As a maddening point of reference, Bears future Hall of Fame TE Adam Shaheen is averaging nine receiving yards and 1 reception per appearance. Sweet!

Underused and struggling Todd Gurley doesn’t pose much of a threat out in the passing game out of the backfield, averaging only 1.5 catches per game. Rams coach Sean McVay has relied less and less on Gurley in both the run and pass; a decision which has not sat very well with the once elite running back. If McVay wants to quiet some critics and appease his star, look for the Bears to get forced fed a steady diet of Gurley.

So, in a worst case scenario for the Bears, what does Goff do this Sunday night?

Well, here’s your answer, and it’s not pretty:

This was from Week 4 against Tampa Bay. Ho. Lee. Shit. 68 attempts, 517 yards – this is some quarterback porn right here people.

 OK, so then what is the best case scenario for a somewhat struggling Bears defense?

Take a peek at Goff’s Week 6 performance against a solid 49ers defense:

As you can see here, Goff wasn’t able to complete a single pass over 10 yards. This type of offensive game-plan fits very well into the Bears defensive scheme due to the speed of the linebackers and athleticism of the defensive line.

What does it all mean?

This game lies squarely on the shoulders of Jared Goff. If Goff is good, not even great, the Rams will win handily. But if Goff replicates last year’s performance against the Bears or his Week 6 struggles against the 49ers, the Bears will win a very low scoring game.

Rams 24 – Bears 10

Football

Welcome to the new weekly look at what’s happening with Chicago’s immediate rivals, and a look around the league of the who’s who of everyone’s favorite brutal shitshow of a vice, the NFL.

Minnesota runs roughshod through Atlanta

The Vikings and Dalvin Cook ran wild out of the starting gate in 2019, posting 172 rushing yards en route to a comfortable 28-12 home victory. Cook was the star early, breaking off big chunks of yardage seemingly at will. He’d finish with 111 yards on 21 carries with two TDs. The Vikings defense was as good as Cook, blocking a punt on the first series of the game and frustrating the Falcons all day long. Four sacks, three turnovers and a shutout through three quarters gave this game a very efficiently boring feel, just what you want out of your team’s D.

This game was so well out of reach early that Kirk Cousins had a great, quiet day: 8/10, 97 yards, one passing TD, one rushing. He did fumble the ball twice and was lucky to keep both, but all in all a capable performance that won’t sound any alarms. The biggest takeaways are this defense is looking very strong, and if the offensive line and Cook/rushing attack can follow this blueprint most weeks Minnesota will be a very tough out all season. Now, if a team can stymie the run and make Cousins beat them….

Looking Ahead: 9/15 @ GB – Lambeau and the great equalizer Aaron Rodgers await. The GB Defense looked equally impressive against an odd Bears offense, so the matchup to watch is that front 7 vs Cook.

Detroit plays not to lose in the desert, somehow does worse than a loss

Matt Patricia was supposed to sort out Detroit as a defensively stout team, at the very least. They were gifted the first start of the Kyler Murray era in a road test to start the 2019 season, and for 3.5 quarters they looked pretty damn stout, ahead 24-6. Then, they somehow allowed the rookie Murray to DOUBLE his stat line in the 4th quarter alone. He went 15/19, 154 yds and 2 TDs, including the game tying toss to Larry Fitzgerald and two-pointer to Christian Kirk with 43 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 24.

Detroit was having their way for the most part on offense, especially in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Matthew Stafford is locked in with rookie TE T.J. Hockenson, who opened his career with 6-131-1 stat line. Stafford put up 385 yards and 3 TDs with no INTs, but a middling rushing attack (32 carries/111 yards) made things difficult late once they tried to burn up the clock. The defensive implosion and then lackluster OT have to be giving this team some concerns given their opponent. Credit to Murray/Kliff Kingsbury for the comeback, but that doesn’t happen without some help. Detroit has plenty to work on after a pretty positive first few hours to their season.

Looking Ahead: 9/15 vs LAC – The Lions head home in Week 2 and face a true test in the Chargers. They boast some exciting pieces on both sides of the ball, even without holdout RB Melvin Gordon. The same mental mistakes that lost a sure win in Week 1 could be a full on disaster against this much tougher opponent.

Packers do enough to hold off inept Bears

Many a word has been typed about this Chicago debacle, so I’ll spare you more of the same. The Packers defense looks very legit, and Mike Pettine is the mastermind there. Matt Nagy and his offense were not ready for the game plan in front of them, and with opportunity after opportunity handed to the Bears, Pettine’s group was there to stop them.

Green Bay did not look very strong on offense outside of a single drive, which was boosted by a wild deep ball and jump ball TD catch. Chicago’s defensive unit looked as advertised and while that’s not an easy puzzle to solve, Matt LaFleur has his work cut out to make changes ahead of another difficult matchup this coming weekend at home.

Looking Ahead: 9/15 vs MIN – LaFleur coaches his first game at home, but the task doesn’t get any easier against a Minnesota team that looked finely tuned in an easy Week 1 win. Let’s see if Pettine can keep the Pack in it late two weeks straight.

Around the NFC…

The LA Rams and Carolina Panthers played what might be a a very early preview of NFC Division winners, with the Rams leading the whole way and holding on late…New Orleans, looking to hold Carolina off, played a thriller of their own on MNF, coming from behind a few times to beat Houston at home on a walk-off Will Lutz 58-yard FG. The Saints get the NFC defending Champion Rams in Week 2…Carson Wentz and the Eagles looked awful for a quarter or so in Washington before seemingly scoring off deep pass plays at will…Not to be outdone, Dak Prescott found himself and the Cowboys down early at home to the lowly Giants before storming to a commanding 35-17 win that saw him account for four TDs.