SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: CHICAGO BEARS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS

BY ADAM GREENE

With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers already taken by the NFL’s Kickoff Game Thursday, the Los Angeles Rams get the league’s featured game spot on Sunday Night Football as quarterback Matthew Stafford makes his official debut in the horns when they host, much to pretty much everyone’s chagrin, the Chicag Bears with their own fresh QB1, Andy Dalton.

Both these teams were NFC Wild Cards last season, with the Bears falling to the Saints and the Rams knocking off the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks in that round. Expectations are sky high for LA to make a return to the promised land in 2021-22. Not so much for Chicago.

CHICAGO BEARS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (-9, O/U: 46.5)

Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Calif.

Broadcast: NBC

Kickoff: Sept. 12, 8:20 p.m. EST

CHICAGO BEARS (0-0)

Much to their fanbases chagrin, head coach Matt Nagy has decided not to throw his rookie quarterback into the teeth of last year’s No. 1 ranked defense. As such, Dalton retains the job for at least the first week and maybe on a week to week basis before reality finally sets in for everyone.

I don’t have a real issue not letting Fields get crushed by Aaron Donald or picked off by Darious Williams and Jalen Ramsey multiple times in his first start. You’ve got to think long term with these kids. He’ll get the keys soon enough.

There’s some real talent in Chicago with which to work and with Fields, it could turn around quick. Allen Robinson is secretly one of the better receivers in the league and they’ve built a solid offensive line as well.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (0-0)

All eyes are on the Rams and the marriage of quarterback Matthew Stafford and head coach Sean McVay. We have no idea what it’s going to look like, other than a few vids from practice. McVay famously keeps his stars out of the preseason so not only do we have no real idea what to expect with the offense, the defense could be a mystery too as Raheem Morris tries to put his signature on the league’s best unit under former coordinator Brandon Staley a year ago.

But we can still guess what it will look like. The offense will be more explosive downfield and the defense will definitely be a real problem for a regular drop back pocket quarterback.

THE PICK

LA is a notoriously slow starting team in their first game, in spite of the fact that McVay is 4-0 in season openers as a head coach. The second half, with the rust off, is when the Rams come alive on offense usually, but that was with Jared Goff as the quarterback. We really have no idea what to expect with Stafford. That second half, though, that’s when the magic happens and that’s where I think we’re probably safe with this spread. Rams 31, Bears 13

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