The Chicago Bears have been one of the NFL's most enigmatic teams in 2013. They come to St. Louis Sunday to take on the Rams sporting a 6-4 record and fresh off an overtime win at home against the Baltimore Ravens.
Their season thus far has been consistently inconsistent, looking like Super Bowl contenders one week, and struggling the next. One thing is fairly certain, if Sunday's game holds true to form: it will be decided by one score.
Of the Bears 11 contests to date, only one, a lopsided 40-23 win at Pittsburgh, has been less than a nail-biter. Even that game was a four point contest with 10 minutes left to go.
New head coach Marc Trestman promised a more prolific offense when he came in to replace Lovie Smith. He's delivered on that for the most part as the Bears have the ninth best offense in the league. This is despite being without starting QB Jay Cutler the past few weeks. Trestman has already announced that backup Josh McCown will get the nod against the Rams.
Trestman has helped revive a talented, but underperforming group of offensive stars that finished 28th in the NFL in total offense a season ago. Matt Forte gives the Bears a solid ground game behind an improved offensive line. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery compose one of the most dangerous wide receiver tandems in the league.
The Bears defense has been injury-riddled and sporadic, however. Even though they've given up the ninth fewest yards from scrimmage this season, they've surrendered the eighth most points, ranking 26th in the league. Cornerback Charles Tillman is out for the rest of the regular season and his partner, Tim Jennings, though still a turnover machine, is starting to show his age. Even so, the Chicago secondary is still tied for second in the league in interceptions at 14.
It's the Bears' rushing defense that has been porous. Chicago is surrendering over 130 yards per game on the ground, second worst only to Jacksonville. On Sunday, a previously struggling Ray Rice had a break out game with 131 yards on the ground. Zac Stacy is licking his chops at the prospects of this matchup.
Chicago is tied with Detroit for the NFC North lead heading into this weekend, so they'll be playing with a sense of urgency. But the Rams come off their bye weeks surprisingly only two games off the wild card pace. If St. Louis could string together some victories, they could be back in the hunt pretty quickly.
Whoever comes out on top Sunday, it's likely to be a Maalox moment for Rams fans.
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