NFL · Sun (9/12) @ 8:22pm ET
|SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California|
It was not too long ago that the Chicago Bears won the NFC North (2018). Coincidentally, that also happens to be the last time the Los Angeles Rams won their division, the NFC West. While the outlook is better for the Rams than the Bears, Chicago will not lay down for Los Angeles by any means.
However, the Bears also might struggle to give the Rams much of a game in week one.
After following up their 2018 division title with two 8-8 seasons, it was clear that the franchise needed a change—and the team got it. Rather than give Mitchell Trubisky another year to prove he deserved to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, the Bears decided to go a different route—Andy Dalton.
The Bears also drafted former Ohio State’s star quarterback Justin Fields. But the team promised Dalton he would start, and it appears they intend on keeping that promise. That could, of course, change once training camp gets underway or at any point during the preseason.
But unless Fields looks like a future All-Pro and Dalton struggles, Dalton will be behind center against the Rams.
Luckily, the Bears defense is in good shape. It will be able to keep the team competitive in most games. However, it is hard to say whether Dalton will make the offense any more productive than Trubisky did last season.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams made a big move in the offseason when the team shipped Jared Goff to Detroit in exchange for Matthew Stafford. But it is a move that many think makes Los Angeles a legitimate Super Bowl contender. However, the Rams have already suffered their first major setback.
Their promising young running back, Cam Akers, is out for the year after tearing his Achilles during an offseason workout. While there are good running backs on the free-agent market, the Rams say they have no plans to bring in someone new.
That means Darrell Henderson will likely get his shot to be a featured back (with support from Xavier Jones, who has yet to register a carry in the NFL and rookie Jake Funk, a seventh-round pick out of Maryland).
The Rams brought Stafford in to boost the passing game anyway. But to keep defenses from focusing on the passing game, the Rams will need Henderson to step up. Henderson had a higher per carry average than Akers (4.5 to 4.3) and got into the endzone more often, too (five times to three for Akers).
This essentially means that the Rams are going to enter the 2021 season the same way they entered the 2020 season. They will rely on their defense and passing game to win while they develop a running game.
Sports Betting Recommendation
While the loss of Akers is damaging to the Rams, Henderson may be more than up to the challenge. So, the Rams offense may not miss a beat. On the other hand, the Bears offense will look a lot like it did last season– which means the Bears do not stand a chance against the Rams.
Take the Rams to win, straight up and against the spread. But if Fields starts for the Bears, take the Rams against the moneyline only.