Game Scout: Bears at Rams

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Chicago Bears (6-4) at St. Louis Rams (4-6)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Edwards Jones Dome, St. Louis - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
*Keys to the game: Rested after the bye week, Rams rookie RB Zac Stacy should be salivating to line up against Chicago's porous run defense. A slew of injuries along the defensive line, over-penetrating linebackers and missed tackles from defensive backs keep the ball on the tee for teams to hit home runs with the ground game -- as Baltimore's Ray Rice and Green Bay's Eddie Lacy showed recently. In the past four games, the Bears are allowing an average of 181.8 rushing yards. Similar production will significantly ease the strain on Kellen Clemens with the Bears pass rush finding its legs. The Rams have considerable talent in their defensive front seven. They have also been ripped for 190-plus rushing yards three times -- by Dallas, San Francisco and Tennessee -- in losses. The Bears will employ a strategy similar to what they have used to keep Jared Allen and Brian Robison of the Vikings in check -- make St. Louis' speedy ends work all over the field with counters and screen passes.
*Matchup to watch - Rams WR Tavon Austin vs. Bears nickel CB Isaiah Frey: Austin is a dynamic runner with blazing speed. Frey can run, too, but won't match Austin's pace. Frey will likely be wearing a soft cast as protection for a fracture in his hand, and tackling could be an issue.
*Player spotlight - Bears DE Julius Peppers: In four games since the Bears bye week, Peppers has been a different player, accumulating 13 tackles, eight assists, an interception and three sacks. In the first six games he had four tackles, two assists and one sack.
*Fast facts: QB Jay Cutler is the only Bears offensive starter to miss a game due to injury this season, and will be replaced by Josh McCown on Sunday. ... Rams DE Chris Long and Bears RG Kyle Long are sons of Hall of Famer Howie Long.
The Rams bring speed on both sides of the ball unlike many teams the Bears have matched up against, but St. Louis can also adapt to a physical test, setting the stage for a game down to the wire.
*Our pick: Bears 27-23

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