With all of the talk about which quarterback will take over the offense in Chicago, it’s easy to forget that not only did this team make the playoffs last season with Mitchell Trubisky as the leading passer, the Bears made the playoffs in two of the previous three years with Trubisky.
The Rams have also made a high-profile change at quarterback, even though their previous signal-caller led them to the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, including the Super Bowl following the 2018 season.
Chicago Bears (+7.5)
The Bears’ defense is still good, even if not quite the same as the previous seasons. And Andy Dalton is an experienced quarterback who can take a team to the postseason. But after a preseason glimpse of what might be from rookie Justin Fields, none of that matters.
The ceiling of Fields, the electric plays he’s capable of making, and the enjoyment he brings to the position, are the only things Bears fans care about. That might change if Dalton is able to play well against the Rams and show that he can keep the team competitive in the NFC North. But nowhere in the NFL does a veteran starting quarterback come with a shorter leash.
Los Angeles Rams (-7.5)
The Rams signaled that they are all-in on getting back to the Super Bowl with their trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford. It turns a team with the best defensive player in the NFL into an offensive showcase.
Aaron Donald is a bit of an afterthought heading into Week 1 (although facing a relatively immobile quarterback in Dalton is likely to put him back in the headlines). All of the hype is Stafford throwing the ball to Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson, and Tyler Higbee, with head coach Sean McVay pulling the strings. Even the season-ending injury to running back Cam Akers hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm that this offense brings.
Stafford did play alongside Calvin Johnson, so he knows how to utilize talent at wide receiver. But having spent his entire career in Detroit, he’s never before played for a team with a history of success or the winning culture of the current Rams.
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams Betting Pick: Rams (-7.5)
For the first time, fans will fill SoFi Stadium, and for the first time, ever Rams fans will have a 5,000-yard quarterback to cheer.
Add in a nationally televised primetime game, and the atmosphere for the Bears at Rams is going to be electric. Aaron Donald will respond, and get to Dalton for at least 1.5 sacks. Overall the Rams might get to him four or five times.
On the other side of the ball, Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel will prove to be fine compliments to the L.A. passing attack. Because of the Bears’ defense, it won’t quite have the fireworks that we’ll see from the Ram offense later in the season. Still, L.A. wins this game by 10 points and justifies their high expectations.