Chicago (0-0) at LA Rams (0-0)
When: Sunday, September 12th, 2021
Where: SoFi Stadium,
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Los Angeles -7/46.5
The first Sunday Night Football game of the season will feature two teams with brand new quarterbacks and stout defenses. The Chicago Bears will visit the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Cal. – home of this year’s Super Bowl. The Rams will trot out veteran Matthew Stafford, who was brought over from the Detroit Lions in a package that included Jared Goff leaving L.A. The 33-year-old Stafford spent his first 12 seasons in Detroit, throwing for 45,109 yards and 282 touchdowns. The Bears will also go with a veteran under center in Andy Dalton, who was brought in to mold first round draft pick Justin Field out of Ohio State. Dalton is a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has thrown for 218 touchdowns in 144 games (142 starts).
The Rams come into this contest as 7.5-point home favorites with a total set at 46.5 as of Saturday afternoon. This is one of the largest point spreads of Week 1. 83% of the betting public is currently on the Rams’ side. The Bears have lost 8-of-11 overall dating back to last season and 13 of 18 while visiting the Rams. These teams have played each of the last three seasons with the home team winning each. All three games also went under the total including the 24-10 L.A. win last October.
Dalton is entering his 11th NFL season and has over 33,000 career passing yards but clearly has his best days behind him. He finished his last season in Cincinnati going 2-11 in 2019 before winning four of nine starts with Dallas in 2020. Dalton has two good weapons on offense in running back David Montgomery and receiver Allen Robinson. Montgomery finished fifth in the NFL last season with 1,070 rushing yards and Robinson was ninth with 1,250 receiving yards. Robinson will likely be shadowed by star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, so Darnell Mooney might get some good looks. Mooney could really breakout this season after recording 631 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 61 receptions in 2020. This will be the first opportunity for new Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai, who takes over a talented defense that includes top pass rusher Khalil Mack, who has racked up 70.5 sacks in 110 career games. Bears safety Eddie Jackson, who had no interceptions in 2020, will look to rebound this season. Jackson made the Pro Bowl in both 2018 and 2019.
Head coach Sean McVay, one of the league’s best offensive minds, will now have probably the league’s most underappreciated quarterbacks. Stafford was constantly surrounded by sub-par talent in Detroit, but right away will have weapons to throw to – receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Kupp had 92 catches for 974 yards in 2020 and Woods 90 for 936. Last season, the Rams ranked just 22nd in the NFL with only 23.3 points per game. They didn’t pass the ball that much with Goff and instead opted to run the ball most of the time. Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley has moved on to a head coaching gig, but tackle Aaron Donald and defensive back Jalen Ramsey are still around to reek havoc on opposing offenses. The Rams were one of two teams in 2020 that had at least 50 sacks. Donald has 85.5 sacks in 110 career games, and is coming off his seventh Pro Bowl nod.
I’m not going to get scared off by the hook in this one. I feel this line should be more like 10. The Bears defense will keep it close for a while, but the offense will do nothing with Dalton under center against this stout Rams defense. Stafford actually had a winning record against the Bears while with Detroit. I’ll lay the points.
Pick: Rams -7.5
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