Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears Pick
Los Angeles Rams (11-1 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 8:20PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
By: Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAR -3/CHI +3 (Bovada)
Over/Under Total: 52
The Los Angeles Rams take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field on a key NFC week 14 matchup. The Bears, playing without starting QB Mitchell Trubisky for the second straight week, saw their five-game win streak broken on Sunday in a rough overtime loss to the Giants, 30-27. They look to bounce back this week, but it’s not easy when the team with the best record in the conference is coming to town. The 11-1 Rams beat the Lions, 30-16, on Sunday and now face their second straight road game against an NFC North foe. They don’t seem to take weeks off, so the Bears will need to be at their best.
Rams Keep on Rolling
Since an early November road loss to the Saints in their only loss of the season, the Rams have been pretty hot, beating the Seahawks and Chiefs at home, followed by a bye and a road win on Sunday over the Lions. Nothing has happened to suggest the Rams are anything but a top-flight contender in the conference and a legit Super Bowl contender. Despite not having a great ATS record at just 5-6-1, they are fairly bankable, with not a ton of variation from week to week. The offense will always fire, with the defense being the more hard-to-account-for part of the equation.
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The Rams are a team that is loaded on offense. Chicago’s defense has been formidable this season, without having really played the more-dangerous offenses in the league. Jared Goff should surpass 4000 yards in this game in what has been an excellent season thus far for the third-year QB. Gurley continues to show great form and ran for another 132 yards and two TDs on Sunday. As is usually the case, Goff connected well with Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, as well as Gurley. Bolstered by a good line, this offense has a lot going for it and Chicago will be hard-pressed to duplicate the form they have shown thus far in the season against less-prolific offenses.
Can Chicago’s Defense Step Up?
Granted, it doesn’t help the other side of the ball when your starting QB is out, but the Chicago defense has shown some kinks in recent weeks. After giving up a big day in rushing to Detroit the previous week, the Bears were soft against the run this past Sunday in a loss to the Giants. The 30 points allowed was alarming, as was the 125 yards they allowed to rookie back Saquon Barkley. When going against the Rams, the last thing you want to see is a waning run-defense, as it opens up all kinds of unpleasant possibilities going against a diverse and high-powered Rams’ offense.
Then again, maybe some of the positive aspects of the Chicago “D” can manifest to help turn things in their favor. They have 21 interceptions on the season, led by Kyle Fuller who now has half a dozen picks. This defense has scored 6 touchdowns on the season, with Eddie Jackson having found the end zone three times already in 2018. And that’s without even mentioning Khalil Mack and the pass-rush, with Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith chipping in big in that category. With a less than iron-clad secondary and a less-dominant run-defense of late, having some of this playmaking come forward could be huge in this game.
Chicago Looking for an Answer
Granted, one loss hardly unravels the quantum leap the Bears have taken this season. But it’s also a time of the year where we see teams fall apart after great starts. The final quarter of an NFL regular season has a way of separating the real contenders from the teams that aren’t quite ready for primetime. Coming off a loss to the Giants, the fork in the road now appears for the Bears. With their QB struggling with a shoulder issue and a team like the Rams coming into town, it’s easy to sense the optimism for the Bears whooshing out of the room. By the same token, this game offers a lot of opportunity for Chicago, as they would be feeling pretty good about themselves and their future if somehow able to beat the leading force in their own conference. If not, they’re going to be 8-5, without a stranglehold on the division, and facing a suddenly-dicey future. In any event, a win here would serve as a cure-all, helping the Bears forget about last week while also giving their contender status a stamp of validation.
Issues for Los Angeles
Just as Chicago is facing their first really scary offense of the season, the Rams are going into what might be an uncomfortable matchup this week. First of all, the LA boys will be exposed to some weather, as it is going to be cold on Sunday. Compounding issues is a CHI defense that is one of the better ones they have faced this season. The Chicago pass-defense is good, but hardly infallible, though they have a robust playmaking component—beyond anything the Rams have seen this season, along with a stout ground-defense. Not that this will necessarily manifest. It’s just that those projecting another Rams’ offensive free-for-all might be left wondering what’s going on Sunday, as a road-game against a good defense in weather has a way of taking the life out of some offenses.
It can ring hollow to constantly take the LA defense to task. Their answer to the notion of being a bad defense can simply be to point out the W-L record, which speaks loudest. But for an electrically offensive team to have covered just 6 spreads this season indicates it is a drawback in some ways. Even after giving up just 16 to the Lions after the bye, which shows they are working on it, they have still allowed a ghastly 152 points in their last four games. Now on the road in a tough spot against a team with some weapons like Tarik Cohen, Jordan Howard, a surging WR Allen Robinson, and others, this could become a major factor, at least in an ATS realm.
Take the Points on the Home Underdog
With the return of Trubisky giving Chicago a boost, I see the Bears hitting the field with a lot of energy on Sunday. For them, this means a ton. For the Rams, it means something less. Sure, they’ll say the right things and even mean it, but with some weather to also deal with, something tells me the Bears will be in this game. And at the end, having the points will feel good. I’m taking the Bears.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Chicago Bears plus 3 points.