ST. LOUIS RAMS at CHICAGO BEARS
When: Noon, Sunday | TV: Fox, Ch. 32, WFLD-TV | RADIO: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM
CHICAGO BEARS (1-1)
Coach: Lovie Smith Record including playoffs: 72-58
Career head-to-head record (including playoffs) vs. Jeff Fisher: 1-1 | Career record vs. Rams: 3-0
Last week: Lost to Packers 23-10
Key stat: With seven takeaways, the Bears are tied for the NFL lead after three games with four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Since Smith became head coach of the Bears in 2004, the club leads the NFL in takeaways and has compiled a record of 43-9 over that span when they finish a game on the positive side of turnover margin.
Offense rank in 2011: 27th (298 ypg) | Defense rank: (338.5 ypg).
Offensive leader: Although several factors play a role in pressure such (receivers, the defense, shoddy blocking, etc.), the fact is Jay Cutler has been under pressure 44.4 percent of the time, which is the most in the NFL. That pressure has been tremendously detrimental to
Cutler’s accuracy as he’s completed just 39.1 percent of his throws under those conditions, which ranks among the bottom three quarterbacks in the league.
Defensive leader: CB Tim Jennings has picked off a career-high three passes so far, but what has gone unnoticed this season is how difficult it’s been for opponents to throw against him. Opposing
quarterbacks have generated a passer rating of 19.7 on throws targeted at Jennings’ coverage area, according to Pro Football Focus. As a run defender, Jennings hasn’t yet missed a tackle this season.
A win gives Chicago its fourth straight against the Rams and would mark their longest winning streak against that team since the Bears reeled off eight in a row against them from 1961 to 1964 when the teams both played in the Western Division.
DT Henry Melton has posted a sack in each of the club’s two games and is tied for the second in the league with three sacks.
All five of Earl Bennett’s receptions on the season have gained first downs. Since Week 9 of 2010, Bennett has caught 19 passes on third down with every one of them going for a first down.
ST.LOUIS RAMS (1-1)
Coach Jeff Fisher: Record including playoffs 148-124
Career record vs. Smith: 1-1 | Career record vs. Bears: 1-3
Last week: Defeated the Washington Redskins 31-28
Key stat: Overcame a 15-point deficit against the Redskins to come away with a 31-28 win. Before then, the Rams hadn’t overcome a deficit that large since Nov. 27, 2005, when they came back from 21 down to beat the Houston Texans in overtime.
Offense rank in 2011: 18th (351 ypg). | Defense rank: 24th (401 ypg).
Offensive leader: QB Sam Bradford has a passer rating of 145.8 in the fourth quarter of his last two games, which ranks second in that category this season behind Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys. On third downs, Bradford has completed 14 of 17 and leads the NFL in completion percentage (82.4) on third downs while generating a passer rating of 125.2 in those situations.
Defensive leader: Coming off a breakout season in 2011 in which he posted 13 sacks, Rams DE Chris Long is still looking for his first sack of 2012. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t wreaked havoc so far this season. Long tallied three pressures in St. Louis’ opener against the Detroit Lions, and five more last week in the win over the Redskins. He’s also got four quarterback hits on the season.
RB Steven Jackson has rushed for 1,000 yards or more in seven consecutive seasons, which ranks as the league’s longest active streak of consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Six other running backs in NFL
CB Courtland Finnegan has picked off a pass in each of his two games as a St. Louis Ram and now has 16 career INTs.
LB James Laurinaitis has posted double-digit tackle totals in two consecutive weeks.