There are no guarantees that Mitchell Trubisky will play Sunday night, when his Chicago Bears play the Los Angeles Rams at Soldier Field, but the likelihood is that he will be in uniform and under center for this measuring-stick game.
The Bears have gone through a major transformation this year, becoming the first-place team in the NFC North under rookie head coach Matt Nagy. The Chicago defense is now one of the best in the NFL, and Trubisky has turned into a solid leader in his second year.
The quarterback did not play against the Detroit Lions in Week 12 or the New York Giants in Week 13, and the Bears split those games with backup Chase Daniel under center. Trubisky went through a full practice Wednesday and said he expects to play against the Rams.
The Bears need him because the team heading to Chicago is averaging 35 points per game. The depth and explosiveness of the Los Angeles offense has been demonstrated all season, but it came to the surface in Week 11, when the Rams defeated the equally high-powered Kansas City Chiefs 54-51.
Chicago solid defensive weapons in Khalil Mack (9.0 sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries), Roquan Smith (91 tackles), Akiem Hicks (5.0 sacks, three forced fumbles) and Eddie Jackson (four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, three TDs). It's not likely they will shut down the Rams, but they will have to slow down Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.
Trubisky is averaging 246.9 yards per game with 20 TD passes, and he has also run for 363 yards and three TDs. His ability to escape pressure and make big plays with his legs is essential for the Bears.
Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, and Taylor Gabriel have been productive, and they are going to need to have big games against Los Angeles.
The Rams are three-point road favorites per OddsShark, and this should be a tight game. However, as good as the Bears have been, look for Los Angeles to make key plays in the fourth quarter and cover the spread.
Week 14 NFL Odds
Point spreads and totals according to OddsShark.
Jacksonville at Tennessee (-4) | O/U 37.5
Atlanta at Green Bay (-5.5) | O/U 49.5
Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5) | O/U 53
Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland | O/U 47
Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5) | O/U 49.5
New England (-7.5) at Miami | O/U 47
New Orleans (-8) at Tampa Bay | O/U 55.5
N.Y. Giants (-3.5) at Washington | O/U 41
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo (-3.5) | O/U 38.5
Cincinnati at L.A. Chargers (-14) | O/U 47.5
Denver (-5.5) at San Francisco | O/U 44.5
Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Oakland | O/U 51.5
Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona | O/U 40.5
Philadelphia at Dallas (-3.5) | O/U 43
L.A. Rams (-3) at Chicago | O/U 52
Minnesota at Seattle (-3) | O/U 45.5
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
The New England Patriots have been dominating the AFC East for years, and most expect them to maintain that control when they go to South Florida on Sunday to play the Miami Dolphins.
Perhaps the linemakers who have made the Patriots 7.5-point favorites over Miami need to slow their roll. The Dolphins are better than the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, and they are in contention for a playoff spot at 6-6.
The Dolphins have won five of six games straight up at home this season, and they have also won four of their past five home games against the Patriots.
New England is 9-3, and they are trying to catch the Kansas City Chiefs for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They are a game behind the Chiefs, but if they finish the season tied with Andy Reid's team, the Pats will have the edge since they won a head-to-head matchup in Week 6.
All three of the New England losses have come on the road, and this is a huge game for the Dolphins. The presence of Ryan Tannehill in the lineup gives Miami a better chance in this game. Tannehill is completing 66.3 percent of his passes and he has a 13-6 TD-interception ratio.
The Patriots were not a great offensive team early in the season, but as long as Brady has his full supporting cast, they have a chance to be dangerous.
This is most likely the Dolphins' most important matchup of the season, and we see them not only covering the spread but winning the game.
Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Chargers
There is usually some level of hesitation when NFL handicappers look at a double-digit point spread.
The belief is that the talent level between two NFL teams is usually not that great and that it's all about factors like motivation, game plan and coaching.
That may not be the case in Week 14, when the Bengals go to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers. The Bengals are battered, bruised and slumping, while the Chargers are talented, fairly healthy and surging.
Los Angeles is a 14-point favorite, and you shouldn't hesitate to lay the big number and go with Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, and Joey Bosa.
Rivers is averaging 284.6 passing yards per game, and he has thrown 28 TD passes. Allen is one of the game's best receivers because he is a smooth pattern runner with excellent hands. He has caught 83 passes for 996 yards and five touchdowns, and the Bengals are not going to slow him down.
The Bengals have lost six of their past seven games, and the last time the Chargers played a team of a similar ilk, they pummeled the Arizona Cardinals 45-10 in Week 12.
Look for a similar score here as Los Angeles rolls and gets the cover.