The Chicago Bears (1-1) vs. the St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Soldier Field isn’t exactly a marquee Midwest NFL matchup, but the teams do have a long history. This will be the 89th time they have met, with the Bears holding a 51-34-3 edge. The Bears won the last meeting 17-9 at Soldier Field in 2009. RB Stephen Jackson ran for 112 yards, but the Bears defense held QB Kyle Boller and the Rams to just three field goals. It was a lackluster game from two lackluster team. This year’s matchup should be quite different.
From 2007-2011, the Rams only won 15 games, but new coach Jeff Fisher has the team on the upswing, beating the Washington Redskins last week and losing a close game against the Detroit Lions in Week 1. Rams QB Sam Bradford looks to be finally living up to the hype, completing 71.7 percent of his passes and throwing for 508 yards and 4 touchdowns so far this season. WR Danny Amendola has been a big reason for turn around, already catching 20 passes for 230 yards and 1 touchdown. The Bears will look to regain the explosive offense that put up 41 points in Week 1. DE Chris Long, CB Cortland Finnegan and the Rams defense is improved but has given up 6 touchdowns, while only forcing 4 turnovers this season.
Let’s take a look at some other important numbers to keep in mind in Week 3.
56.3: Devin Hester’s career kickoff return average against the Rams (4 returns), which includes 2 touchdowns.
130.0: Steven Jackson’s career average yards from scrimmage against the Bears (2 games).
3: Number of interceptions Charles Tillman has in 4 career games against the Rams.
18-9: Jay Cutler’s record since the start of the 2010 season.
9-19: Sam Bradford’s record since the start of the 2010 season.
100.19: Cutler’s average QB rating in the week following a game when he had a QB rating under 50.0. (He had a 28.2 QB rating last week.)
3-5: Cutler’s career regular season record against the NFC West.
17-8: Cutler’s career record at Soldier Field as a Chicago Bear.
10: Henry Melton’s number of sacks since the start of the 2011 season, the most by a defensive tackle over that span.
100: Bears red zone efficiency in 2012, scoring 4 touchdowns and 2 field goals.
116: Times Cutler has been sacked in 43 games with the Bears.
786: Cutler’s yards lost while being sacked since joining the Bears in 2009.
28: Longest play from scrimmage by a Bears opponent (Rush by Packers WR Randall Cobb last week) in their last 3 games, dating back to Week 17 of 2011.
26-4: Lovie Smith’s record since 2008 when the Bears lead at halftime.
25: Bears opponent’s third down conversion percentage in 2012 (6-for-24).
8: Number of total missed field goals in 142 attempts by all NFL kickers in 2012 and number of punters with a gross average of 50.0 yards or more (only 5 times in NFL history has a punter finished a season with a gross average of 50.0 yards or more).
I just threw that last stat in there because I found it to be pretty crazy. NFL kickers are ridiculous good this season. Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein is 6-for-6 on field goal attempts this season and Robbie Gould is 3-for-3. This means that field position is going to be important. Field goals can add up quickly if the Bears turn the ball over or have to punt from deep in their zone. Speaking of punting, Rams rookie punter Johnny Hekker has 8 punts for an average of 50.5 yards. This could actually be great for Devin Hester, if he catches a long punt with room to run in front of him. Also keep in mind that Hester’s first two career kickoff returns came against the Rams in 2006.
We will see what this all adds up to Sunday at Soldier Field.