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Bears set to battle Rams Sunday in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — The Bears will look to win their second straight game and at least maintain a share of first place in the NFC North Sunday when they face the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.

The Bears (6-4) are tied atop the division with the Lions (6-4), one game ahead of the Packers (5-5). On Sunday, Detroit hosts Tampa Bay and Green Bay entertains Minnesota.


Josh McCown looks to improve to 3-0 as a starter this season Sunday when the Bears visit the Rams.
The Rams (4-6) are coming off their bye week. They had lost three straight before stunning the Colts 38-8 in Indianapolis Nov. 10. In that game, rookie Tavon Austin scored three touchdowns on a 98-yard punt return and receptions of 57 and 81 yards.

Quarterback Josh McCown will make his second straight start and third in four games for the Bears in place of the injured Jay Cutler, who remains sidelined with a high ankle sprain.

Appearing in the last four games, McCown has completed 61 of 101 passes for 754 yards with five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 100.0 passer rating that ranks seventh in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 100 passing attempts.

McCown has played in four career games with two starts against the Rams (all in 2003-04), completing 43 of 68 passes for 515 yards with two TDs, no interceptions and a 96.1 passer rating.

The Bears offense is also led by running back Matt Forte, who has rushed for 774 yards and seven touchdowns on 175 carries and caught 49 passes for 374 yards and 1 TD.

Receivers Brandon Marshall (64 receptions for 828 yards and 8 TDs) and Alshon Jeffery (54-818-3) have combined for the second-most receiving yards of any duo in the NFL.

Sunday's game will feature a match-up between brothers, Bears rookie right guard Kyle Long and Rams defensive end Chris Long, both of whom are sons of Hall of Famer Howie Long.

The strength of the Rams defense is their line, specifically ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, who ranks second in the NFL and first in the NFC with 12 sacks.

The Bears have been decimated by injuries on defense and will play without three Pro Bowlers in cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive tackle Henry Melton in addition to linebacker D.J. Williams and defensive tackle Nate Collins.

Defensive tackles Stephen Paea (toe) and Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) also will not play, but defensive end Shea McClellin wil return after missing two games with a hamstring injury.

The Rams offense is led by quarterback Kellen Clemens, who assumed the starting job after Sam Bradford suffered a torn ACL Oct. 20 in Carolina. In four games, Clemens has completed 46 of 86 passes for 634 yards with three TDs, two interceptions and a 79.3 passer rating.

Rams running back Zac Stacy ranks second in the NFL among rookies in rushing with 537 yards and three touchdowns on 129 carries. The fifth-round pick from Vanderbilt will face a Bears run defense that has allowed an average of 182 yards in its last four games.

The Bears hold a 52-35-3 advantage in the all-time series between the teams, having won four straight after losing four in a row. Two of those victories came in St. Louis in 2006 and 2008.

The Bears won the last meeting 23-6 on Sept. 23, 2012 at Soldier Field. Chicago's defense generated six sacks and two takeaways, returned an intercepted for a touchdown, and held the Rams to a pair of Greg Zuerlein field goals.

In total yards, the Bears offense ranks 9th in the NFL (18th rushing and 10th passing), while the Rams defense ranks 19th (18th against the run and 14th versus the pass). The Bears defense is 24th overall (31st against the run and 17th versus the pass, while the Rams offense is 27th (22nd rushing and 21st passing).

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