Rams Park 9.19

Notes, Keys to Game, and Prediction for Rams/Bears Week 3 in the NFL.

Steven Jackson did NOT practice today. He’s day-to-day with a groin injury. Both Darryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead took snaps with the 1st team offense.

In addition to Rodger Saffold, the Rams could be without tackle Wayne Hunter Sunday. Hunter inured himself against Washington but returned later in the game. Waiver pickup Ty Nsekhe would start at left tackle. Jeff Fisher called it a “challenge” not having the luxury of a healthy offensive line, but guys will be ready.

Fisher repeated today the team is expected to win each week. There isn’t even a subtle hint of anything else being acceptable.

WR Austin Pettis returned to practice after serving the last 2 games of his 4-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. He got extensive work with the first team offense, looking just as sharp as he did all training camp. Pettis worked out 2x a day for the last couple weeks including catching passes.

Chris Long, in his fifth season, called this team a “new beginning” for guys who hung around despite the losing seasons.

When told of Mike Ditka’s comments, Cortland Finnegan responded admirably. Here’s Ditka’s comments followed by Finnegan’s response.

Lovie Smith predictably downplayed Jay Cutler’s antics against Green Bay, calling them part of an emotional game…especially against the team “Up North”. But, he makes a good point. The media loves feasting on Cutler’s mishaps, and its usually overblown.

5 Keys to Winning Sunday:

1. Contain Julius Peppers. Dude is an absolute monster for the Chicago defense. He missed Wednesday’s practice with a sore foot stemming from plantar fasciitis. Over his 11-year career, he owns 37 forced fumbles, 8 interceptions (2 TD), and a whopping 102 sacks. He’ll line up against Barry Richardson on the right side, but the Bears move Peppers all over the place to utilize his skills.

2. Win the turnover battle. Packers safety Charles Woodson offered this shot at the Bears QB after Cutler threw 4 picks last Thursday:

If the Rams can carrot Cutler into mistakes, they can win this game. He’s a gun slinger, and more times than not that means chances for defensive backs.

3. Rams WR corps stepping up. The Bears watch tape too. They saw Danny Amendola run wild against Washington. Expect a safety to double-team Amendola thus opening other options for Sam Bradford. Steve Smith, Brandon Gibson, and Pettis need active days along the sidelines. I think this is the week rookie Chris Givens connects on a deep bomb.

4. Harrass Cutler and bottle up the rushing attack. Even without Matt Forte, the Bears have a quality back in Michael Bush who sees a lot of playing time anyways. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice likes to run the football, and considering the 4 INT’s a week ago, expect a heavy rushing attack. Chris Long and Robert Quinn played stellar against Washington, constantly pressuring “Bob” Griffin. The Rams tackled remarkably better in Week 2, and that MUST continue against a big running back like Bush.

5. Score in the red zone. The Rams went just 2/6 in the red zone against Washington, and 3/5 against Detroit. Worse, they were just 2/4 with goal-to-go last week. Need touchdowns there. Additionally, no red zone interceptions (Bradford).

Prediction.
Rams go into Soldier Field and cause more tension within Bears’ locker room.
RAMS 27 BEARS 21

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