Coming off a victory against the Baltimore Ravens, the Chicago Bears are back in the hunt for a playoff berth and will travel to St. Louis to face the Rams. A focus on the running game will be the key to a Chicago victory.
The Rams boast a stout defensive line. The team has 32 sacks on the season and is led by 2011 first-round pick Robert Quinn. He leads the team with 12 sacks.
On the opposite side of Quinn is Chris Long. He was the second overall pick of the 2008 draft and has 6.5 sacks on the year. Long is also the brother of Bears rookie guard Kyle Long.
Together, Quinn and Long are two of the premier defensive end tandems in the league. They collectively have helped the Rams be the No. 2 team in the league in opponent's pass attempts.
Should the Bears want to have success against the aggressive front, they will need to run the football. When you have two ends who like to get after the quarterback, misdirection and draw plays are very effective.
Matt Forte should see a lot of action on the edge. Counter plays and sweeps will allow Forte to hit the edge and take advantage of both ends looking to get up field. Forte should have an extra bounce in his step on the Edward Jones Dome's turf.
Look for the Bears to continue to feature Alshon Jeffery on end-around plays. Even if they fake it to him it helps to keep the defense honest and create more room up the middle.
Josh McCown will still have his share of throws. Even in inclement weather this past Sunday, McCown attempted 31 passes. He has been successful in intermediate throws and will likely continue to go that route on Sunday.
Keeping with the running theme, it's vital the Bears defense focuses on stopping the run. Over the past three games, St. Louis has averaged 168 yards on the ground. The team is led by its powerful rookie, Zac Stacy.
Stacy took over as the starting running back after the Rams weren't able to muster up any success with Darryl Richardson. Over the past three games, Stacy has averaged 26 rushing attempts and 108 yards on the ground.
Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens will not strike fear into too many defenses. Even with a banged-up secondary, the Bears should run an eight-man front to try to slow down the 5'9'', 216-pound Stacy.
St. Louis is coming off a bye week. The Rams will look to build upon their Week 10 victory against the Indianapolis Colts in which they forced five turnovers. McCown has yet to throw an interception this season.
As long as the Bears use Forte in multiple looks on the ground, take care of the football and force the Rams offense to grind it out down the field, they will win the game. St. Louis' offense is typically not an explosive one, and its defense tends to wilt due to extra time on the field.