The first Sunday Night Football of the season will pit the Chicago Bears against the Los Angeles Rams. The Bears will be traveling to SoFi Stadium to kick off their 2021 season and will have their hands full.
Los Angeles is one of the best teams in the NFL as their roster is loaded. They have Pro Bowl and All-Pro caliber players littered throughout their roster and will present difficulties for their opponent every week.
The Bears have some talent of their own, as they will be looking to replicate their playoff appearance from last season. Week 1 will be a good measuring stick game for them to see how they measure up to the rest of the NFC contenders.
Here are three things to watch for in their Week 1 matchup with the Rams.
3. Slowing Down A Familiar Foe
One of the biggest moves of the 2021 NFL offseason was made by the Los Angeles Rams. They pulled off a blockbuster trade for Detroit Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford.
With Stafford under center, the Rams offense is expected to take a nice step forward. Jared Goff has struggled to replicate the success he had in 2018 and the Rams decided it was to make a change and Stafford was who they tabbed as the adjustment.
The Chicago Bears have plenty of experience facing off against Stafford, who was the Lions’ quarterback since 2009. That could help them gameplan for this week’s game, as they know some of what to expect from Stafford even with him on a new team.
2. Can They Stop Aaron Donald?
The Chicago Bears offense has some good-skill position players. David Montgomery came on at the end of the 2020 season, carrying the running game. Allen Robinson is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
If the Bears have any hope of them having good games, they are going to have to figure out a way to slow down Aaron Donald. The all-world defensive tackle has seen it all from opponents trying to slow him down, but nothing seems to work consistently.
Donald is the biggest game breaker in the NFL as he can single-handedly ruin an offensive game plan by collapsing the pocket, dominating in the run game or as a pass rusher. If the Bears can slow him down, the offense will have a chance to make some plays.
1. Andy Dalton’s Play
The Chicago Bears moved up in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Ohio State quarterback, Justin Fields. Fields is the future of the franchise, but he will have to wait to get a chance to start under center for the team.
Veteran Andy Dalton will be taking the reins of the offense in Week 1. How long he remains the starter is anyone’s guess, but if he plays well and helps the team win games, he will continue holding onto the starting job.
Dalton has immense pressure on him knowing a lot of people want to see Fields starting games. Will he use that as motivation and play lights out? Or will he crumble, playing underwhelming football and ceding the job to Fields soon?
The Rams have a talented defense, so if Dalton plays well, he should be able to hold onto the job for at least one more week.