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Rams-Bears preview: LA d-line vs the Bears o-line

Can the Rams defensive front dominate at the line of scrimmage?

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

One of the biggest advantages the Los Angeles Rams may have over the Chicago Bears is right at the line of scrimmage. LA’s defensive line and edge rushers should be able to create a few mismatches against the Bears front. Let’s take a look at Chicago’s offensive line and some of the potential battles we may see on Sunday night.

Jason Peters LT 6’4 328 pounds

Long time Philadelphia Eagles and former All Pro left tackle Jason Peters enters his 18th season facing the 2020 first ranked defense after only a month with his new team, the Chicago Bears. That is not a lot of time to build chemistry on a unit that requires cohesion, but Peters will benefit from reuniting with former, and now once again current offensive line coach Juan Castillo. Castillo was Peter’s offensive line coach during his first two seasons in Philadelphia.

By most accounts, Peters has lost a step and is no longer the dominant blocker he used to be. Peters gave up eight sacks while only playing in eight games last year. I will never claim to be a mathematician, but that averages out to a sack per game. Chances are he’ll allow one on Sunday night as well.

The former Arkansas Razorback will be tasked with stopping outside linebacker Justin Hollins from getting to Andy Dalton. While Peters may still have the edge as far as strength is concerned, Hollins should have a decided speed advantage and the benefit of playing in mostly the same defensive scheme for the second year in a row. Hollins was previously crossed train at both outside and inside linebacker so it wouldn’t be surprised to see him line up at different spots throughout the game.

Cody Whitehair LG 6’3 316 pounds

Interior offensive lineman Cody Whitehair is probably the best Chicago blocker heading into the 2021 season. He showed great versatility last season, starting eight games at center and the final seven at left guard, including the NFC Wild Card Game against the New Orleans Saints.

Whitehair plays with great leverage, consistently staying lower than the defensive linemen he is blocking. At left guard, he will mostly see defensive end A’Shawn Robinson. Robinson has never been a recognized as a sack machine, but he is still a threat to create pressure this season, after becoming a full time starter following the trade of Michael Brockers.

This may be a bit of a stalemate or even a slight win for Whitehair, as I wouldn’t expect a huge stat line from Robinson. Make no mistake, I am not belittling Robinson’s role in this game or the rest of the season. I expect him to have a good season.

But I also expect the Bears best offensive lineman to be able to keep Robinson from getting Dalton to the ground. This is more than likely going to be a battle defined by the success, or lack thereof in the running game.

Sam Mustipher C 6’2 332 pounds

Mustipher is likely to see his fair share of Sebastian Joseph-Day, while also assisting in double team help against Aaron Donald as he attempts to anchor the middle of the Bears offensive line at center. He spent the offseason preparing for the 2021 season by adding more weight for games like this.

This particular matchup should be another one more about the Bears running game more so than the pass rush. Joseph-Day was only able to sack the quarterback once last year, so one shouldn’t expect a massive increase in a sack production. However, he did state the primary focus of his offseason was geared to improving his pass rush.

James Daniels RG 6’4 327 pounds

Daniels has an interesting role in this game. He is burdened with the task of blocking Aaron Donald, while also starting at right guard for the first time. According to the Chicago Bears website, Daniels has spent his career playing mostly left guard, registering 23 starts at that position and another eight at center.

He has proven to be a good and versatile lineman, like most of the interior of Chicago’s line. However, returning from a pectoral injury that cost him all but 5 games of the 2020 season only to line up in front of the best of the best in Donald is less than ideal.

Donald will surely line up all across the defensive line, as Los Angeles finds the most favorable match up to create as much havoc. It won’t be Daniels who is singlehandedly assigned with “stopping” AD but based on the positions they are both expected to start, he will get the first crack.

Germain Ifedi 6’5 344 pounds

Ifedi is another underrated lineman on the Bears roster. The former Seattle Seahawk started every game last season, splitting his time between right guard (10 starts) and right tackle (7 starts). He put together a very successful campaign, allowing a career low two sacks on the season, including the playoffs. He lined up at right guard when LA hosted the Bears last season.

Ifedi will see plenty of Leonard Floyd on the edge, while also assisting with double teams against AD. Though Ifedi may be coming off his best season as a pro, I’d expect Floyd to find his way to Dalton during this game. Floyd played inspired against his former team last year and hopefully that effort will again be on display this Sunday night.