By Cedric Williams
.When the St. Louis Rams come back to work on Wednesday, after being granted five days off to enjoy their bye week by head coach Jeff Fisher, the team’s focus will be solely on the Chicago Bears.
The Rams (4-6) will host the Bears (6-4), Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in a matchup of clubs that are both looking to make a push for the playoffs — only six teams will get into the postseason from NFC. Chicago is currently in eighth place, while St. Louis is in 12th.
And while the Rams enjoyed having the weekend off following their best win of the season – 38-8 two Sundays ago in Indianapolis – the Bears will come to town Sunday coming off a thrilling win of their own, after beating the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in overtime.
Chicago on Offense
The Bears, who are ranked No. 9 overall in total offense, have perhaps the most balanced offensive attack St. Louis will see this season.
Chicago is 10th in the league in passing (257.0 yards/game), while also ranking 18th in rushing (110.3 yards/game).
Quarterback Jay Cutler was ruled out for the second straight week with a sprained ankle, but backup Josh McCown has been superb in Cutler’s absence, passing for 754 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions in three starts plus some fourth-quarter relief man duty two weeks ago when Cutler aggravated his injury against Detroit.
Running back Matt Forte is having another fine season for Chicago as well.
The sixth-year man out of Tulane is sixth in the league in rushing, with 774 yards and seven touchdowns.
But the Bears have been most dangerous when they put the ball in the air, where receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have been perhaps the best WR tandem in the league.
Marshall, a four-time Pro Bowler who had 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, leads Chicago in those categories again, with 64 receptions for 828 yards and eight scores.
Jeffery, whose in his second season out of South Carolina, is just behind with 54 catches for 818 yards and three touchdowns.
Chicago has also gotten outstanding play from its tight end, former Dallas Cowboys second round pick Martellus Bennett, who has 42 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns.
Bennett made the key play in the win over Baltimore when he fought off two defenders for a 43-yard catch-and-run that put Chicago in range for its game-winning field goal.
Chicago on Defense
Defensively, the Bears have been nowhere near their reputation as “The Monsters of the Midway.”
Chicago ranks in the bottom third of the league in overall defense (24th to be exact), with a middle-of-the-pack No. 17 rating in pass defense and an absolutely atrocious 31st (second-worst in the league) ranking on run defense.
The Bears “D” has really struggled with injuries — the most significant of which has been to Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, who fractured his shoulder a couple of weeks ago. And just last week, standout cornerback Charles Tillman tore his right triceps and might be done for the season himself.
Chicago leads the all-time series with the Rams, 52-35-3 and has won the last four in a row, including a 23-16 win over St. Louis last season.
Among those four straight wins, the Bears have won the last two played between the clubs in St. Louis. In 2008, Chicago nearly blanked St. Louis 27-3, and in 2006, the Bears’ Devin Hester returned two kicks for touchdowns in a 42-27 Monday Night Football victory over the Rams.
St. Louis’ last win over the Bears came in 2003, when the Rams rallied to win on a last-second field goal by Jeff Wilkins.
For more Rams news and updates, visit Rams Central.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a freelance reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the Rams and small-school college sports for Examiner.com and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can be found on Examiner.com.