The Los Angeles Rams start their 2021 season at home to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday, September 12 at 8:20 EST on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Last season the Rams finished second in the NFC West with a 10-6 record, while the Bears were 8-8 and second in the NFC North. The Rams are a 7 ½-point favorite with an over/under at 47.
Let’s take a look at the key matchups to focus on during the game.
The Bears have decided to open the season with Andy Dalton at quarterback. Clearly Justin Fields will be the starter sooner rather than later, but Bears head coach Matt Nagy likely didn’t want to expose Fields to the wrath of the Rams defense that took down opposing quarterbacks 53 times and led the league in fewest yards and points allowed last season.
The Rams defense should still be one of the best in the league, but perhaps not as dominant as last season. The huge losses come in the secondary that lost John Johnson III and Troy Hill.
Keep on eye on the play of Dalton. Should he falter with numerous turnovers, Fields may get the call. After all, he was by far the best quarterback on the Bears rosters this preseason. The Rams defense has the advantage overall with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey capable of turning the game around at a moment’s notice.
The game is won in the trenches, so we examine the Bears offensive line versus the Rams relentless pass rush. Chicago’s line is anchored by the play of guards James Daniels and Cody Whitehair, however any pass rush from the Rams off the edge or directly over center could cause nightmares for Dalton.
Teven Jenkins is on the shelf following back surgery, enter 39-year-old Jason Peters. Although a sure Hall of Famer and better than other options, Peters is injury prone and gave up eight sacks last season.
Can anyone stop or even slow down Aaron Donald? It’s been a few years since his 20 ½ sack season, but he’s still always pressuring quarterbacks and had 13 ½ sacks last season. The Rams have the edge and have a dominating advantage if Donald lines up across center.
Many times, the coaches decide the game, so who has the edge between the battle of the Sean’s, McVay versus Desai? The Rams’ offense is likely to be more explosive with Matthew Stafford playing in McVay’s system.
Desai is a relatively unknown, joining the Bears in 2013 as a defensive quality control coach. After two seasons in charge of the safeties, the Bears felt time to promote him to defensive coordinator. Look for the Rams to go keep and try to expose 2020 fifth-round pick Kindle Vildor and Jaylon Johnson with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
There is a reason that the Rams are more than a touchdown favorite. They have the edge in nearly every matchup heading into this game.