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Bears vs. Rams: What to Watch 4

Key matchup

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is on his way to a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award, with 16 ½ sacks, 32 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles. In two seasons under coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Rams are 16-0 when Donald has a sack and 5-5 when he doesn’t.

“He can be a game-changer,” Bears right tackle Bobby Massie said. “If you don’t get four sets of hands on him at times, he’s going to destroy the offense.”

Rookie left guard James Daniels and right guard Bryan Witzmann — a replacement for injured starter Kyle Long the last five games — likely will be in the most direct line of fire. But center Cody Whitehair will have protection responsibilities as well. It’ll take a group effort to contain the great Donald.

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (tackling the Lions Theo Riddick last week at Ford Field) has 12.5 sacks, 24 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles in his last six games. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (tackling the Lions Theo Riddick last week at Ford Field) has 12.5 sacks, 24 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles in his last six games. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Trending

Two weeks ago, the Bears were ranked No. 1 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (77.8) and per carry (3.5). But they allowed 111 rushing yards against LeGarrette Blount and the Lions (4.6 average) and 141 rushing yards against Saquon Barkley and the Giants (4.9 average).

Now they get an even more dangerous running back in Todd Gurley, who leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,175) and TDs (15). Gurley averaged 108.6 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry in his last seven games, with eight total touchdowns. 

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Player to watch

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky will be playing for the first time after missing two games with a sprained shoulder. Trubisky has completed 210 of 321 passes (65.4 percent) for 2,469 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions for a 97.7 passer rating this season.

The Rams’ defense is ranked 24th in opponent’s passer rating (99.7) and has been a good barometer for quarterbacks. The seven highest ranked quarterbacks they’ve faced have a combined 120.5 rating against them — No. 1 Drew Brees (137.0), No. 2 Patrick Mahomes (117.6), No. 3 Philip Rivers (105.7), No. 4 Russell Wilson (132.5/123.2), No. 11 Aaron Rodgers (102.9) and No.  12 Kirk Cousins (117.2).

The five lowest-rated passers have a combined 72.8 rating against the Rams — No. 18 Derek Carr (62.8), No. 24 Matthew Stafford (81.0), No.  28 Case Keenum (91.7), No.  31 C.J. Beathard (56.1) and No. 35 Sam Bradford (53.0).

Trubisky is right in the middle of those two groups  — 15th in the NFL in passer rating. It’ll be interesting to see which one he joins.

X-factor

Trubisky hasn’t played in three weeks. His last game against the Vikings wasn’t a great one: 165 yards, two picks and a 61.9 rating. He’ll need to shake the rust off quickly in this one.