This morning I posted the offseason report for the Chicago Bears over at SBNation.com, and it got me thinking about the St. Louis Rams' game against them in Week 3. We've been talking some about expectations for the Rams this season and how they could pull off some surprises. That game against Chicago seems like perfect example of how the Rams can nab an early season upset win.
The key for a win against the Bears rides with the improvements made to the Rams defense. Last year, the defensive line proved to be pretty adept at getting pressure on quarterbacks. Pretty amazing when you think how infrequently the Rams were playing from behind.
Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers improve the middle of the defensive line. Both should be able to get some pressure, especially against an interior line that was susceptible to stronger defensive tackles last season. At the very least, Langford and Brockers can hold steady while Chris Long and Robert Quinn take advantage of the Bears tackles.
It looks like J'Marcus Webb could still be their starting left tackle, at least early in the season. Webb allowed 12 sacks, six hits and 30 hurries last year. A healthy Gabe Carimi improves the right side (if I were a Bears fan I'd be lobbying for him on the left).
The other key is the secondary. Cortland Finnegan should be fine. How ready will Janoris Jenkins be? If he adjusts quickly to the NFL game, enough so that by Week 3 he can keep Alshon Jeffery or whichever receiver he's matched up against off his route, the pass rush can create problems.
Finally, the run defense has to be greatly improved on what they were last season. Matt Forte is holding out now, but will likely be back in the fold once the season starts. Paired with Michael Bush, the Bears have a very good running duo. The Rams' defensive tackles should improve the run defense, but they'll need contributions from the as yet unresolved linebacking situation and the secondary. Finnegan and Jenkins should both help against the run, a healthy Bradley Fletcher would also be a real advantage in run support when the Rams are in a nickle.
Defensively, this is a good matchup for the Rams, but the offense will have to do its part to pull off the upset. The Bears can certainly attest to seeing good defensive performances squandered by the offense, which happened to them frequently last year after Cutler went on the shelf. And in case you hadn't noticed, the Bears have a pretty good defense.
The Rams have a tough start to the season, opening on the road in Detroit and then at home against Washington, which could be a winnable game. An upset over the Bears could really change the tone of their season, in the opposite way the losses and injuries doomed them last year.