A lot of people aren’t banking on the Chicago Bears beating the Los Angeles Rams tonight on Sunda Night Football. That isn’t a big surprise. L.A. has owned Chicago in the past two meetings since 2019. They have the reigning #1 defense in the NFL and upgraded at quarterback with Matthew Stafford. This feels like a team that is ready to compete for a Super Bowl.
Conversely, the Bears still feel like a decent team but one with notable flaws. They have two untrustworthy offensive tackles and an exceedingly young group of cornerbacks. Their key nose tackle Eddie Goldman is already out with a knee injury. To top it off, they’re putting their trust in Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback. While a savvy veteran, he is inferior to Stafford in terms of talent.
This is the sort of game the Bears will need big contributions from key players that aren’t necessarily their stars. There will be a number of matchups that they might be able to exploit. It comes down to whether they show up ready to play. Here are the three battles that could determine the outcome.
Chicago Bears won’t win all matchups but these three matter
Darnell Mooney vs. Darious Williams
People have made a lot out of the supposed rivalry between Mooney and Jalen Ramsey because the Bears rookie torched the All-Pro with a double move last season. In truth, Ramsey will likely focus his coverage efforts on Allen Robinson in this game. That means Mooney will draw the attention of the Rams’ #2 corner, Williams. He emerged as a quality coverage guy last season, allowing a 61.1% passer rating and snagging four interceptions. With Robinson unlikely to have a big night, Mooney has to be the guy who makes something happen. That means getting the best of Williams.
Kindle Vildor vs. Robert Woods
Los Angeles will likely focus their passing attack towards slot maestro Cooper Kupp. Don’t expect Duke Shelley to handle that assignment overly well. This means the other Bears cornerbacks have to win their battles as much as possible. Vildor had a difficult preseason and a lot of people question if he’s capable of being a starter. Woods will be a tough first test. The veteran is smooth, intelligent, and a precise route runner. Vildor must stay disciplined and not get carried away with his assignments. If he can at least limit Woods, the Chicago Bears defense can have an easier night.
Cody Whitehair vs. A’Shawn Robinson
If the Bears are going to win this game, they have to run the football. In the last two meetings, they ran for 74 and 49 yards respectively. Robinson is expected to fill the void left by Michael Brockers as their primary run-stopping lineman. He’ll be going against Whitehair, Chicago’s unquestioned best run blocker up front. If he can generate some movement on that side for David Montgomery, the team will be able to control the flow of the game and prevent Aaron Donald from taking it over. Having Jason Peters next to him with his size and power will be a big help.