Jared Goff

(Too) Bold Predictions: The Blake Bortles-Mitch Trubisky debate gets answered once and for all

(Too) Bold Predictions: The Blake Bortles-Mitch Trubisky debate gets answered once and for all

(Too) Bold Predictions aims to take nuanced, well-researched information and use it to make wildly improbable predictions. Analysis! 

J.J. Stankevitz
1. Eddie Jackson -- finally! -- has his first two interceptions of the season.
Does this count as a bold prediction if I've predicted it, incorrectly, multiple times this year? Whatever. Either way: It finally happens! Jared Goff has nine interceptions this year and the Rams' offense has looked broken at times. Sunday should be a nice opportunity for Jackson to finally get that takeaway he's so hungry for, and we'll say he stacks another one on it. These things do come in bunches, after all.

2. Blake Bortles vs. Mitch Trubisky gets settled once and for all.
Sean McVay intentionally put Blake Bortles in the Rams' loss to the Steelers last week, as if one of the NFL's foremost offensive minds was taken over by Jason from "The Good Place." The prediction here: Things go catastrophically wrong for Goff in the first half Sunday night, but the Bears aren't able to capitalize, holding a 6-0 lead at halftime. With the Rams' season on the line, McVay breaks the glass and gives Bortles a shot in the second half, which goes...actually, kind of well? I have the Rams beating the Bears in my official prediction, and I wouldn't imagine a Bortles-led offense would be good enough to beat the Bears. But is a Trubisky-led offense good enough for the Bears to beat the Rams? This could be an ugly, yet fascinating, night if Bortles and Trubisky wind up quarterbacking against each other.

Cam Ellis
1. David Montgomery has his most impressive game of the season. 
The Bears probably aren't going to have a lot of success running it through some of the interior gaps, because, you know, Aaron Donald and all. The Rams' run defense is great (3rd in DVOA) so getting over the (kind of arbitrary) 100-yard mark may not happen, but without Adam Shaheen, Trey Burton, and Jalen Ramsey smothering Allen Robinson, the Bears aren't going to have that many options available to them on Sunday night. It sounds like Montgomery may be a gametime decision, but it's hard to imagine how the Bears move the ball at all without him. Whether it's total yardage, the number of touchdowns, or some jaw-dropping display of his space alien abilities to avoid being tackled, Montgomery's the story on Monday morning. 

2. The Bears' offense looks as good as it has all year. 
Like I said in prediction 1, the Bears' offense goes into Sunday night with a serious lack of NFL experience at the skill position. Shaheen and Burton are out, so they'll have to rely on JP Holtz, Ben Braunecker, and Bradley Sowell, who I promise are all real people. Allen Robinson has to go up against Ramsey, and David Montgomery's ankle has made him a maybe. But who cares?! All the common sense says a Trubisky/Cohen/Braunecker core probably isn't getting the best of Wade Phillips, but (Too) Bolds is not the place for common sense. For no rhyme or reason, something about the Bears' offense clicks tonight. Will it be fun? Yes! Will it continue going forward? No! 

Bear PAWS: Both Bears and Rams at a crossroads

Bear PAWS: Both Bears and Rams at a crossroads

Who doesn’t appreciate a good idiom, right? You know, idioms - expressions that aren’t meant to be taken literally - like someone having “cold feet.” The person doesn’t literally have feet that are actually cold, he or she probably has second thoughts and serious doubts about committing to something. “To the nine” is an English idiom meaning, “to perfection,” or “to the highest degree.” Unfortunately, for the Bears and Rams, a combined 9-9 win/loss record has a meaning that is now more mediocre than perfection.

Some of the best idioms are football sayings like, “running backs are a dime a dozen.” Clearly the Bears prescribe to this concept, just ask recently released running back Mike Davis… hello, Ryan Nall.

Another popular idiom, “he dropped the ball,” could apply literally to Rams QB Jared Goff, due to his 9 fumbles this season. I don’t want to be guilty of being a “Monday morning quarterback,” so before Sunday’s game arrives, let’s use P.A.W.S. (Predictive Analysis WIth Statistics) to better understand how the number 9 is patterned into this week’s game.

The Los Angeles Rams are struggling at 5-4 and whether or not it’s due to a “Super Bowl hangover” is debatable. What is certain, however, is how irresponsible and careless quarterback Jared Goff has been with the football. His disregard for ball security (9 interceptions/9 fumbles, 3 lost) has led to diminished scoring chances for the Rams, while undoubtedly contributing to several of their losses.

On the season, the Rams are giving up 21.2 points per game; however, over the last 3 games, that average plummets to 12.3 points per contest. Goff didn’t have any turnovers in two of those games, and both of those matches were convincing wins.

Examining the last few games further, we see that Los Angeles is 9th (42.9%) in the NFL in red-zone scoring percentage involving only touchdowns. Coincidentally, the Bears are allowing red zone touchdowns at a 44.4% clip, ranking right behind Rams at 10th in the league.

Obviously, keeping teams out of the end zone is necessary for winning, but for Chicago with their anemic offense, it’s vital. Chicago averages 18 points a game -- the 6th-worst scoring offense and a source of frustration for players, coaches and fans.

Offensive frustration aside, Chicago’s defensive unit keeps them in striking distance as evidenced by the -0.6 scoring margin between points allowed and points scored. Defensively, Chicago has only given up 9 passing touchdowns, placing them 6th in that category league-wide. Currently, the Bears rank 9th in yards allowed per game at 327.3, and over the last 3 contests that average has dipped to 320.3 yards.

Having led with the “good news,” I feel compelled to share the fact that Chicago, on the road, is giving up 374.8 yards per game.

Plainly put, the Bears offense needs to improve dramatically if Chicago is going to make a push for the postseason. Out of thirty-three quarterbacks rated, Mitch Trubisky’s 85.2 QBR is 9th-worst and the team’s 9.3 yards per completion is dead last. Ironically, Goff’s QBR ( 82.7) is worse than Trubisky’s, but Jared and the Rams are 9th in passing yards (2,516).

Despite the turnover turmoil Goff has caused his team, the Rams are still extremely explosive on offense and that scoring prowess makes them dangerous to Chicago.

Faced with injuries to key players and plagued by inconsistent play and questionable coaching decisions, both Chicago and Los Angeles are looking up through a “glass ceiling” (love those idioms) regarding their playoff positioning. In order to go to the postseason dance “dressed to the nines,” the Bears must show up offensively with a game plan Trubisky can confidently execute.

In order to compete Sunday, Chicago must:

● Win on 3rd down in LA, where over the last three games the Rams rank 5th, allowing only a 30.4% conversion rate.

● Continue to feed David Montgomery at the goal line, where his 9 carries there rank 3rd overall in the NFL

● Pressure Goff into more turnovers (Rams have 16 TOs, which is 7th-worst in NFL)

The Rams and Bears are at a “crossroads” of sorts, but neither team can put the “cart before the horse” if they are to contend for the playoffs.

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Eddie Jackson's in the longest turnover drought of his life, and 'It's getting stressful'

Eddie Jackson's in the longest turnover drought of his life, and 'It's getting stressful'

At this point last season, Eddie Jackson had forced turnovers in three of the first four games, and was coming off a first half highlighted by a 65-yard scoop and score against the Bills. Jackson ended the season as the defense's most consistent playmaker, which makes the underwhelming first half of 2019 even more confusing. Big plays aren't coming like they used to, and the Bears' defense – Jackson especially – are still trying to figure out why.

"You know I really can’t even answer that," he said on Tuesday. "We’ve just got to continue flying around and try to make plays on the ball."

"That’s like a trick question - I really don’t know how to answer that. You’ve got to fly around. Guys got to make plays on the ball, strip the ball, or get in position to make plays and try to intercept it and things like that. Really don’t know." 

The last time Jackson scored was in the Bears' Thanksgiving game last season. He jumped a slant from Matt Stafford and ran it back 40-something yards, winning the game for the Bears; it was his 5th touchdown through 27 career games. Now he's played 39 games and still stuck at 5. 

"This is the longest it’s ever been in my life , playing football, without an interception, without a touchdown – ever," he said. "So it’s getting stressful. I’m just happy we won the last game, but just being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s going to come, that’s all I can tell myself." 

His numbers, outside of turnovers, are also down, but Jackson still feels like he's playing well. Through his first two seasons he earned a reputation for always being around the ball, and for whatever reason, that just hasn't been the case so far in 2019. 

"I’m one of my biggest critics, so I just feel like I need to get in more positions to make plays, if that makes any sense," he said. "Like I said, it’s a different system, there are different things, so you’ve just got to buy in and control what you can control. And that’s dominating my square and my man. Wherever I’m in, just got to dominate that." 

The Bears spent Tuesday morning watching game tape from last year's Rams game, which in theory bodes well for Jackson's confidence. Not only did he play well (1 INT), but the Bears shut down a Rams offense that had scored 30 points or more in four straight games. Holding LA to a couple field goals was one of the biggest moments of the Bears' season. 

"Our preparation in practice was dead on," Jackson said. "Details, everyone was locked in. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and for us to come out and stand up how we stood up last year, it was some sight to see." 

The Bears will try and replicate that type of performance on Sunday night, and with the game-plan focused on forcing Goff to throw from the pocket, Jackson's going to get his chances. He admitted that there have been other chances throughout this season that he's been tempted to 'cheat' on, but has tried to stay disciplined within his first NFL system change. 

"You don’t want to press too much," he said. "It’s hard doing that, especially having the type of secondary that we have back there and even the type of confidence I have in myself and the type of player I am, you want to jump things.

"I’m just happy we won the last game, but just being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s going to come, that’s all I can tell myself." 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.