A pair of disappointing teams meet on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, with both the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams at risk of falling out of playoff contention completely without a victory in the matchup. The disappointment may be greater for the Rams, however. They’ve muddled to a 5-4 record after appearing in the Super Bowl last season — despite signing 25-year-old quarterback Jared Goff to a four-year contract extension for $134 million, per NFL.com.
The contract includes a record $110 million in guaranteed cash for Goff, who propelled the Rams to a 13-3 record last season. But Goff, the NFL’s top overall draft pick in 2016 out of the University of California, managed to complete just 19 of 38 passes without a touchdown as the New England Patriots defeated the Rams in Super Bowl 53, 13-3. So far this season, Goff has posted a passer rating of just 82.7. That’s his lowest since his rookie, 2016 season.
On the other side, Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky — the second overall draft pick in 2017 — has bounced back from a string of disastrous outings that sparked speculation that he would simply be benched.
Against the Detroit Lions in Week 10, Trubisky tossed for 173 yards and three touchdowns, as the Bears raised their record to 4-5 with a 20-13 home victory.
But even a rejuvenated Trubisky has not managed to persuade the oddsmakers, who have made Los Angeles a 6.5-point favorite at home, according to USA Today. In a survey of NFL experts, USA Today also found a broad consensus, 86 percent, picking the Rams to win on Sunday.
With divisional rivals the Seattle Seahawks at 8-2, and the NFC North Minnesota Vikings now 8-3 after defeating the Denver Broncos earlier on Sunday, the Rams are in a position where a loss that drops them to 5-5 likely means that they must win all of their final six games to have a chance at a Wild Card berth in the NFC.
As for the Bears, falling to 4-6 would all but crush any chance of advancing to the postseason they might now have.
While much of the pressure to keep the Bears alive falls on Trubisky, the Bears’ defense may turn out to be the most important factor in the game. Chicago comes into the Sunday night matchup missing two important defensive players, tackle Akiem Hicks, and linebacker Danny Trevathan. Both are suffering from elbow injuries, with Trevathan getting hurt in the win over the Lions, according to ChicagoBears.com.
The Rams will miss wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who is sidelined with a concussion. Goff’s pass protection also took a hit, thanks to injuries suffered by center Brian Allen and tackle Rob Havenstein.