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Playoff Picture: Bears prepare for playoff-like game against the Rams

The Bears are coming off only their fourth loss of the season last week, but they’re still very much in the playoff hunt at 8-4 and they’re still a game and a half up on the Vikings in the NFC North Division race.

This week they’ll likely get their biggest test of the season. They’ll host the team with the best record in the NFL the 11-1 Los Angeles Rams. The Rams have already clinched the NFC West Championship for the second straight season, but they’ll still have lots of incentive for this game. With a win over the Bears the Rams can clinch a first round bye in the playoffs and they’re trying to stay ahead of the Saints in the race for the top seed in the NFC.

The biggest question for the Bears again this week is will Mitch Trubisky play? He sat out the last two weeks and the Bears split those two games. Trubisky has been throwing and the feeling is that he’ll probably be ready to go this week, but if he’s not completely healthy you can be sure the Bears will sit him again despite the magnitude of this game and this opponent.

No matter who is quarterbacking the Bears look for Tarik Cohen to play a key role again. With Trubisky out the Bears leaned heavily on their young running back against the Giants. He’s the only reason they stayed in that game. Cohen led the NFL last week with 186 total yards from scrimmage. He also threw a touchdown pass.

When you think of the Rams you think of a high-scoring offense. This might be the best, most-balanced attack in the NFL. The Rams rank second in the NFL in scoring at slightly under 35 points per game. They rank second in yards per game. They’re fourth in the league in both rushing yards and passing yards. To top it all off they take care of the football. They’ve turned the ball over only 11 times all season.

Quarterback Jared Goff has become one of the elite players in the NFL. He has passed for more than 3700 yards with 27 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. His passer rating is an outstanding 109.9.

When Goff isn’t dropping back to pass he’s usually handing the football off to Todd Gurley. He’s  the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,175 yards. He has already scored a Rams’ franchise record 15 rushing touchdowns this season. Gurley is also an excellent receiver.

Fortunately the Bears come into this game equipped with the NFL’s fourth ranked defense to combat that offense. That defense far and away leads the NFL with 30 takeaways. Getting some takeaways against this Rams’ offense would be huge.

The key player in this game might be Rams’ defensive lineman Aaron Donald. He leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks. He was a monster last week in Detroit where he had two sacks and five tackles for loss. Can the Bears’ offensive line stop this guy?

The other big matchup in this game is the two head coaches. Matt Nagy and Sean McVay are two of the best offensive minds in football. What tricks will they have up their sleeves?

This will be a fun game to watch not only for Bears and Rams fans but for football fans everywhere. That’s why the NFL flexed this game from an afternoon kickoff to a night game. It’ll kickoff at 7:20 Sunday night.