The new NFL season is finally upon us and the Chicago Bears travel to the West Coast to face familiar foes in the shape of the Los Angeles Rams.
New quarterbacks clash
Both sides head into the game with new quarterbacks on show.
For the Bears, the majority of their close season was a soap opera regarding the position. Out went 2018 Pro Bowler and formed No. 2 pick Mitchell Trubisky to Buffalo. But it was incoming that piqued the most interest with the Soldier Field faithful.
The Bears courted Seattle standout Russell Wilson, whilst there was plenty of Internet chatter about a move for the Texans’ Deshaun Watson.
So, it was understandable that there was an audible release of groans around the room when the Bears unveiled former Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton in March.
Dalton had been backup to Dak Prescott at the Cowboys, taking over when Prescott was injured early in the season.
But the Cowboys finished with a losing record and Dalton was sacked 24 times as the side missed out on the playoffs.
The ten-year veteran still possesses a strong throwing arm but how he performs behind the Bears’ weakened offensive live is a major worry. There’s also the elephant in the room of Justin Fields.
There hasn’t been this much hype about a Chicago quarterback in my lifetime but Matt Nagy remains unmoved about having Dalton as his starter.
For the Rams, it was a little more straightforward. They traded Jared Goff to the Lions for Matt Stafford in March. Stafford is a strange case. He has bundles of personal accolades but Detroit continued to struggle despite his performances.
Although the Bears have enjoyed success against the Lions in recent seasons, Stafford actually enjoys a winning record against them. He will bo doubt be hoping to carry that form into the season opener.
Injuries give Rams the defensive edge
Make no mistake about it, the Rams’ Aaron Donald, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year is the best the NFL has to offer.
In his first season with the Bears’ Khalil Mack perhaps challenged Donald for that honour. But Mack has slowed in previous seasons with injuries and his troublesome groin means his participation could be limited against the Rams.
Robert Quinn is another that has struggled with several niggling injuries. The outside linebacker is currently struggling with his back, after a disappointing first season at Soldier Field where Bears fans didn’t see the best of the former Ram.
Perhaps the biggest loss though is that of Eddie Goldman. After missing the whole of last season because of COVID concerns, the talented nose tackle successfully recovered from the virus last month.
However, the Bears’ first injury list of the campaign sees Goldman sitting out the trip to LA with ankle and knee problems, so he will have to wait a little longer for his return to competitive action.
Don’t expect much Sunday night sizzle
After the Bucs and the Cowboys kick-started the new season with a clinic on Thursday night, expectations are high for an exciting NFL season.
Just don’t expect too much sizzle from the Bears and the Rams on Sunday night! This is the fourth season running the two sides have met.
The Bears’ defense led the side to a stirring Monday Night Football victory in December 2018 (15-6) but their last two trips to the West Coast have proved fruitless – losing 17-7 in 2019 and 24-10 last season.
Smart money suggests the Rams will shade this one without getting too many neutrals onto the edge of their seats.