When the Bears travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams Sunday night, keep an eye on these matchups:
Bears WR Allen Robinson II vs. Rams CB Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey is the type of player that offenses scheme around.
"You've just gotta know where he's at," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, "see if he's matching our guy or not. We expect him to match A-Rob. Obviously he's in a new scheme, so I think he's still getting used to that, but most of the time he's matching, and he's just gonna cover his guy and try and shut that down."
The Rams gave up a Khalil Mack-level of draft capital to acquire Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars in October. The two-time Pro Bowler is one of the league's premier cornerbacks and has started the last two weeks, and in light of an underperforming offense, the Rams have come to rely much more on their defense to keep them in games.
As Trubisky predicts, Ramsey will likely spend most of his time facing his former Jacksonville teammate, Robinson. While Robinson didn't account for any of the Bears' three passing touchdowns against the Lions, he remains the top weapon on offense and Trubisky's outlet valve on high-pressure downs.
With the Bears seeming to find the ability to string drives together in spurts, a big Robinson performance on Sunday might be the difference in the team's quest to get back up to .500.
Bears LB Roquan Smith vs. Rams RB Todd Gurley
Gurley ranks 23rd in the NFL in rushing with 428 yards and six touchdowns on 104 carries after finishing third in the league with 1,251 yards last year. But he remains dangerous. The Bears will look to stop Gurley and the Rams running game and put Los Angeles in predictable passing situations.
Smith ranks second on the defense with 67 tackles after reaching double digits in the last two games with 10 against the Eagles and 11 versus the Lions.
The real question is whether Rams coach Sean McVey will give Gurley the ball enough to make a difference. After two straight Pro Bowl seasons carrying the ball 18 times a game, Gurley has been reduced to only 13 handoffs a week. Gurley has not recorded 20 or more carries or rushed for 100 or more yards in any single game this year.
The drop-off has led to some drama in Los Angeles, as McVey, like Nagy, orients himself more to the passing game. However, since the Bears have generally been able to hold opponents close, Gurley's ability to move the chains and bleed time off the clock could be decisive. Smith and the rest of the defense are hoping to neutralize him similar to what the Bears did against the Vikings' Dalvin Cook in Week 3.
Bears C Cody Whitehair vs. Rams DT Aaron Donald
Two weeks ago, Philadelphia Eagles All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox played a crucial role in blowing up the Bears' offensive gameplan. This week, the Bears will face the only tackle in the league who can claim to be superior to Cox in Donald.
The undersized tackle has dominated offensive lines for the past six years. After a slow start this season, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year has five sacks in the last four games.
The performance against the Eagles seemed to initiate the Bears' decision to switch Whitehair back to center. Last season, Whitehair and then-rookie James Daniels were able to keep Donald mainly in check, even if the Bears didn't put a ton of points on the board.
This week, the offensive line has to keep Trubisky upright and unbothered, as the team looks for the third-year quarterback to improve on last week's three-touchdown effort.