The NFL Regular season is finally upon us. The Los Angeles Rams will be welcoming the Chicago Bears to SoFi Stadium. The Rams are the favorites to win in week one. Which players should you look at as the x-factors to watch against the Bears?
Los Angeles Rams X-Factors To Watch Against The Bears
If ever there were a reason not to start the future of your franchise at quarterback, that reason would be three time Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald. Donald will be a force to reckoned with against the Bears underwhelming offensive line. In addition to the offensive line struggles, Matt Nagy has named Andy Dalton as the starter for this matchup. Having an immobile quarterback with a makeshift offensive line face Donald in week one is like handing a lion his dinner on a silver platter.
The best defensive player in the NFL also tends to play well against the Bears. In the last two seasons, Donald has totaled 17 pressures, 3 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. I’m sure Donald wants nothing more than to make Dalton’s life a living Hell for 60 minutes en route to a win at home on Sunday Night Football. Donald will be one of the most dominating x-factors against the Bears.
Alongside Donald is former Bear, Leonard Floyd. Floyd played for the Bears for four years before breaking out in his fifth season. In 2020 Floyd made the Bears pay for letting him go to the tune of 6 pressures and 2 sacks. Aside from his ability to rush the passer, Floyd also brings the ability to be an elite run defender and contribute in coverage as well.
The Rams will once again look to Floyd to wreak havoc and take advantage of one-on-one matchups against the Bears offensive line. If Floyd can take advantage of his opportunities, Dalton will have a long day at the office. Floyd could be one of the most exciting x-factors to watch against the Bears.
Darrell Henderson is going to be the Rams starter at running back. However, Sony Michel was brought in for a reason. The Bears have done a solid job of slowing down the running attack of the Rams in the past. A lot of that has been the Bears keying in on the Rams outside zone scheme and neutralizing it. For this reason, running between the tackles will be more important than ever. Sony Michel can do that and do it well. Michel averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2020 in a backup role and keeping the chains moving will allow the Rams to sustain long drives.
If the Rams get the run game going it will allow Sean McVay to open up the passing attack even more. Controlling the clock and tiring out defenders is Michel’s job. How Michel is utilized and how he performs against a solid Bears defensive front will be one of the more interesting x-factors to watch against the Bears.
By now we all know how the chatter in the offseason will have motivated Jalen Ramsey for this game. Fans, media members, and even players all flapped their gums in response to an incomplete pass to Darnell Mooney. Mooney is a good player and no cornerback will ever win every matchup. However, the talk surrounding the play was a little disrespectful in all honesty. Ramsey is going to let his play do the talking for him against the Bears (with a side of trash talk).
Ultimately Ramsey only gave up 2 catches on 5 targets for 47 yards against the Bears in 2020. 42 of those yards came on a play in the fourth quarter with the Rams up 24-3 and Ramsey playing a little lackadaisical. Ironically Ramsey also had an interception and an allowed passer rating of just 35 in that game. Ramsey will be one of the most entertaining x-factors to watch against the Bears.
Matthew Stafford is no stranger to the Bears. Stafford played in the NFC North for 12 seasons. In that time, Stafford posted an 11-9 record against the Bears and threw 32 touchdowns to 23 interceptions. In contrast, Stafford has never been part of a complete team like the Rams and he will want to prove to everyone the Rams didn’t make a mistake trading for him.
McVay is looking and talking about Stafford like he is his shiny new toy. After struggling to get the most out of Jared Goff in 2019 and 2020, McVay was ready to move on to someone who had all the tools as well as the mentality to lead a team to the Super Bowl. McVay and Stafford will look to make a statement in week one against Stafford’s old rival. For this reason, Stafford will be one of the most impactful x-factors to watch against the Bears.