The Chicago Bears know their 2021 schedule looks pretty daunting on paper. It certainly doesn’t start easy. Their opening game will be on the road in primetime against the Los Angeles Rams. A team that has owned them the past two years. Early betting odds aren’t in the Bears’ favor. They feel the Rams are just all-around a better team. Especially after the acquisition of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
However, one of the great equalizers in sports is health. Sometimes is not so much the better team that wins but the healthier one. Los Angeles isn’t off to a great start. Despite more than a month still to go before the opener, they’ve already suffered a huge loss to their offense. Cam Akers, the 2nd round pick who emerged as a budding star last season as a rookie, suffered a torn Achilles ahead of training camp.
Rams’ RB Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles, as @TomPelissero reported.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 20, 2021
One cannot understate this loss for the Rams.
Akers was the engine of the entire offense down the stretch last season. Over the final five games of the regular season, he racked up 424 yards and two touchdowns. He has had 96 receiving. Then in the playoffs he really took flight. In a big win over the Seattle Seahawks, he piled up 131 yards rushing and 45 receiving with a TD. Then against Green Bay a week later, he had 90 rushing on just 18 carries with a score.
Coming into 2021, he was the unquestioned feature back in this offense. Somebody who would be able to help ease Stafford into this new offense. Now Akers is done for the year. This continues a trend of amazingly bad luck with Stafford and running backs. L.A. will have to figure out alternatives.
Chicago Bears will be better equipped to stop them this time
Another reason this could be potentially huge is the return of Eddie Goldman. Last season the Rams managed to run over the Bears for 160 yards on the ground. A big reason for that was the absence of the big nose tackle. In the two previous meetings when they had to face him in 2018 and 2019? It was far less of a cakewalk. Just 172 yards total. Don’t forget they also lost center Austin Blythe to free agency. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is 40-years old.
Los Angeles has been a running team pretty much since Sean McVay took over as head coach in 2017. Losing Akers may force them into unfamiliar territory, leaning heavily on their newly acquired quarterback. This is where the Chicago Bears would want them. Being a one-dimensional offense. That would offer the defense more opportunities to create some turnovers. Something that was a persistent issue the past two years.
Then again, it won’t matter if the offense can’t score.
That has been the true heart of the issue for Chicago. Just 15 points in the first meeting, seven points in the second, and 10 points in the third. The Rams defense has owned the Bears. Having Aaron Donald is undoubtedly a big reason for that. Until they learn to be the aggressors in these meetings, not much will change. Still, if they were looking for even a small bit of help? Not having to play Akers is a start.