A flaccid offense, a missed field goal, and a questionable two-point conversion did the St. Louis Rams in last week against the Minnesota Vikings. The Rams will look at bouncing back this week versus the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones Dome.
Bears Players to Watch
TE Martellus Bennett
Martellus is one of the Bears biggest weapons on offense. He leads Chicago in receptions (45) and touchdowns (3).
While Bennett is a serious threat not to be taken lightly, the Rams have fared well at limiting tight ends this season. St. Louis has only given up 100 yards to a TE once this season (Cleveland's Gary Barnidge, 101 yards). Only Washington's Jordan Reed has put forth a respectable game against the Rams (six catches, 82 yards).
Other touted TEs put on check by the Rams are Pittsburgh's Heath Miller (17 yards), Green Bay's Richard Rodgers (45 yards), and Seattle's Jimmy Graham (51).
QB Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler has thrown for 1,787 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions through seven games this season. While his yards and TD totals are down from last season within the same time span, his giveaways are significantly lower. Cutler has been smarter with the football. His passer rating of 89.6 is already higher than his career passer rating (85.4), and if it should stand – or improve – it will be the best of his career.
Rams DE Robert Quinn along with the entire defensive line will be tasked to force Cutler into making more mistakes.
RB Matt Forte/Jeremy Langford
Matt Forte has not seen action since injuring his knee Week 8 versus the Vikings. He was inactive for last week's Monday night game against the San Diego Chargers. Forte made is return to practice this week, albeit in a limited basis and is questionable for the game
Forte is a well-rounded back. He can burn you in the passing game and gash you through the run. He has accumulated 548 yards and two TD's on the ground. He is still in the top-15 in terms of rushing yards, despite missing time. Forte has also added 25 receptions for 219 yards and another TD.
If Forte cannot go on Sunday, the onus falls on rookie running back Jeremy Langford will take his place. The fourth round rookie was impressive against San Diego, rushing for 72 yards on 18 carries in the victory.
WR Alshon Jeffery
Flashback to the 2012 Draft. With the 33rd pick of the draft, the St. Louis Rams picked receiver Brian Quick out of Appalachian State. Twelve selections later, Alshon Jeffery was taken.
Alshon is a big, physical receiver. He has 33 catches for 492 yards and two touchdowns on the season. He has eight receptions of 20 yards or more – same as Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson.
It will be up to Janoris Jenkins to keep Jeffery on check. Alshon is the Bears' big play receiver. Jenkins is in the midst of #ClampSeason, and has limited big plays on the outside.
Alshon tweaked his groin during practice this week and did not practice Thursday. He did, however, return to the practice field on Friday.
OLB Pernell McPhee
Here is another injured starter for the Bears.
Pernell is officially listed as questionable, but he missed three straight days of practice due to a bum knee. McPhee did play in Monday's contest against San Diego. He ended up taking himself out in the fourth quarter, citing discomfort.
Pernell is the Bears' leading sack artist, posting up five sacks. If he cannot go on Sunday, fellow linebacker Lamarr Houston will step up. Houston has three sacks for the season so far.
So there you have it – five Bears players to watch. Any comments or players you would focus on, mention in the comments section below.