(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bears will try to keep pace in the tight NFC
North when they visit the St. Louis Rams Sunday.
The Bears and Detroit Lions both have identical 6-4 records and the Green Bay
Packers are right behind at 5-5. The Bears will not have quarterback Jay
Cutler on Sunday because of a high ankle sprain suffered in a Week 10 loss to
the Lions and he missed this past Sunday's 23-20 overtime win versus
Cutler left Chicago's 45-41 loss against the Washington Redskins in Week 7
with a torn muscle in his groin and returned to action against Detroit three
weeks later before exiting with the ankle injury.
Josh McCown, who has made two starts and two relief appearances this season in
place of Cutler, has completed 61-of-101 passes for 754 yards with five
touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Bears are 2-0 in McCown's starts, but Cutler will return to the starting
role when healthy.
"Jay is the quarterback of our football team and Josh is our backup, and all
three of us know that," Bears coach Marc Trestman said Monday.
In a game delayed for almost two hours because of a lightning storm, McCown
passed for 216 yards and a touchdown and Matt Forte had a busy day with 83
yards rushing on 18 carries and 42 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.
Robbie Gould nailed a 38-yard field goal in overtime to win it for Chicago,
which has alternated results in the last six contests.
Chicago rallied from a 10-0 deficit at halftime and defensive end David Bass
had a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter to key
"We always talk to our players about creating turnovers and not turning the
ball over, and we did a very good job of that today," Trestman said. "I think
that allowed us to stay in the game and be in the game."
The Bears will play two straight and four of the next five games on the road,
and are 2-2 away from Soldier Field.
St. Louis is coming off its bye week and halted a three-game slide with an
improbable 38-8 rout of the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 10. The Rams picked off
Andrew Luck three times and had four interceptions on the afternoon, while
sack master Robert Quinn posted two sacks. Quinn is second in the NFL with 12
sacks, behind Indy's Robert Mathis.
Kellen Clemens threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns and rookie Tavon Austin
ended with 138 yards and two scores on just two catches. Austin had a 57-yard
score and an 81-yard touchdown for the Rams, who are 4-6 on the season.
"I knew the day was going to come," Austin said. "It was just me being patient
and me being true to myself and to keep working. I'm just glad that I had an
Zac Stacy carried the ball 26 times for 62 yards and a score in the win.
Clemens, meanwhile, has played well since starting quarterback Sam Bradford
was lost for the season in Week 7.
"I think I've gotten more comfortable with each rep, both in practice and in
games," Clemens said last week. "Fortunately, we were able to get a win on
Sunday. I think I've gotten more comfortable each week, and hopefully we can
continue to make plays and be effective on offense."
The Rams trail the all-time series with Chicago, 35-52-3, and have lost the
last four meetings between the teams. In the previous meeting between the
teams on Sept. 23, 2012, the Bears recorded a 23-6 victory at Soldier Field.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
With Cutler still nursing an ankle injury, McCown will handle snaps in the
Gateway City. McCown is a reliable veteran who has plenty of weapons at his
disposal in Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
The Bears have faith in McCown, especially now in November when wins are
crucial and teams begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
"Josh is a leader," Marshall said. "He's one of our captains even though he
doesn't have a 'C' on his chest. He's awesome. He's been awesome for us. You
can't ask for a better guy to lead the huddle."
Bears center Robert Garza agreed with Marshall's sentiments.
"Josh is a long-time pro," Garza said. "He knows what it takes to get ready
for a football game. Without taking any reps and a new offense the entire
season, to be able to step in and do what he has, it's a tribute to his
preparation and the coaching staff getting him ready for the game."
McCown completed 9 of his 11 passes for 132 yards and 1 TD in the fourth
quarter and overtime versus the Ravens.
The Rams are hoping to keep their defensive swagger after what they did to the
Colts a few weeks back. Quinn will try to add to his sack total and linebacker
James Laurinaitis keeps the defense intact.
"I take a lot of pride in my preparation and taking care of my body and being
available," Laurinaitis said on the team's website. "I take a lot of pride in
being a guy that, when coaches go to bed at night, they're not worried about
if I'm going to be in the right gap or whether I'm going to make the right
checks on my calls. They have other people to worry about and I've always
prided myself on that."
Chicago will have to worry about the athletic Laurinaitis, who leads the Rams
with 75 tackles. He had eight stops against the Colts and one of the defenses
four interceptions. Laurinaitis and cornerback Trumaine Johnson lead St. Louis
with two picks apiece.
Rams veteran defensive end Chris Long will face his younger brother, Kyle, who
is a rookie guard for the Bears. Chris Long has 6 1/2 sacks this season.
"It's a dream come true for me to be able to look across the line of scrimmage
and think my older brother and I are two of the few people on this earth to
play in the NFL," Kyle Long said. "We're privileged and blessed."
Even though there's no sex appeal when it comes to Sunday's quarterback
matchup, the Bears and Rams are still fighting to stay alive in the playoff
hunt. The Bears have a better chance with their 6-4 record and first-place
credentials, while St. Louis has a pulse at 4-6.
The Rams will most likely need to win out in order to have a shot at the
postseason and that won't occur Sunday. They may have exhausted the chance of
staying on track with that huge win over Luck and the Colts, so this week will
be a downer for the Rams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bears 24, Rams 17
The Sports Network