Bears vs. Rams: Behind Enemy Lines in St. Louis Columnist Steven Gerwel

Andrew DannehyCorrespondent INovember 22, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23: Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears makes a catch against Cortland Finnegan #31 of the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field on September 23, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Rams 23-6.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The weather won't be an issue this week, but the Chicago Bears will have a big test as they play against an aggressive St. Louis Rams team.

The Bears withstood the elements and a throw-back game from Ray Rice as they topped Baltimore last week to get to 6-4 on the season. That tied them with Detroit for first place in the win-loss column, although the Lions have the tiebreaker so the Bears will have to finish a game ahead of them. 

Every game is important and this one could be particularly tricky. The Rams don't look special on paper, but they have a lot of dangerous players and their biggest strengths are the Bears' biggest weaknesses.

For more insight on this game I reached out to Rams Featured Columnist Steven Gerwel. Gerwel has been with Bleacher Report since 2010 and he resides in Southwest Missouri.

 

What is something you’re concerned about with the Rams facing the Bears?

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 17: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears runs on and end-around against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field on November 17, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Ravens 23-20 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

SG: The St. Louis defense has been on the rise—the unit has 23 sacks and seven picks in its last six games—but the group does not match well with Chicago’s tall, physical receivers.

So far this season, the Rams have faced Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon and Andre Johnson, and the results have been consistently troubling.

Those five receivers combined for 524 yards and five touchdowns against the Rams.

If the Chicago receivers can exploit the St. Louis secondary in a similar fashion, the Rams are in trouble.

 

My Take

That seems to be the consensus for every team preparing to face the Bears, but it would be a mistake to sleep on Matt Forte

Forte has been the Bears' key player so far this season. They're 5-2 when he tops 100 yards from scrimmage and 5-0 when he has over 40 yards receiving. 

He's next to impossible for any linebacker to cover and if the Rams have to go out of their base defense, the Bears should be able to run it on them. Their run defense is ranked 15th in rushing yards per game and they have the eighth-worst run defense in the league according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

 

What is one area you think the Rams can exploit in the matchup?

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 6: Zac Stacy #30 of the St. Louis Rams rushes against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Edward Jones Dome on October 6, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams beat the Jaguars 34-20.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

SG: In the absence of Sam Bradford, rookie back Zac Stacy has stepped up to lead the offensive charge and is excelling.

Stacy has averaged 105 yards from scrimmage per game since taking over the starting role in Week 5. He’s on pace for a 1,000-yard season despite having just one total carry in the first four weeks of the season.

The Bears have the second-worst run defense in the league (133.9 yards surrendered per game on average) and the Chicago defense has allowed four 100-yard rushers in its last five games, so Stacy will be a handful.

The Rams will feed him the ball all day long, and if Chicago does not have an answer, it could be a career day for the young back.

 

My Take

You hit the nail on the head here. 

Stacy is a beast and remind me a lot of Frank Gore. Even when the Bears defense was good they struggled with power backs, so they'll definitely have their hands full with Stacy.

I wonder how big of a difference that will ultimately make, however. Eddie Lacy ran for 150 yards, but the Bears won that game. Ray Rice ran for 131, but the Bears came out ahead there too.

In Stacy's two best games—134 yards against Seattle and 127 yards against Tennessee—the Rams lost.

 

Who do you think wins and why?

SG: As much as my St. Louis readers will hate this, it’s hard to bet against the Bears.

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 17:  Josh McCown #12 of the Chicago Bears looks for a receiver against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field on November 17, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Ravens 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Gett
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The great equalizer in this game is the fact that both teams are fielding backup passers. Since no team possesses a clear advantage there, this game will undoubtedly be determined by turnovers.

Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens has been responsible for four turnovers in his three starts, while Josh McCown has yet to fumble or throw a pick this season.

The Rams have home-field advantage and are coming off their bye week, but as the team more susceptible to turnovers, the Rams are in a tough position.

 

My Take

This is a hard one for me to pick because I can easily see St. Louis' defensive line dominating this game, just as Detroit did. 

I think the Bears do possess a clear advantage in terms of backup passers simply because I don't think Clemens has any business being in the NFL. McCown is bound to turn it over sometime and I think he will this game, but I think the Bears will intercept Clemens a few times. 

I'm going to pick the Bears to win 21-13 with an interception returned for a touchdown, but I could see it going either way.