The Chicago Bears don't get much respect for a 5-1 team. They can only win ugly, or so the conventional wisdom goes, and their luck is supposedly going to end when they meet an elite opponent.
The Los Angeles Rams (4-2) looked like an elite opponent until last week, when an unsightly loss to San Francisco led to a re-evaluation of just how good this team is as well.
One of these teams is likely to come out of the longtime NFC rivals' meeting Monday night at SoFi Stadium with a win that will give a huge boost to having credibility as a contender.
And if these clubs' recent history is any guide, their matchup will be decided by defense.
The Bears and Rams have both thrived defensively this season, and that's not new. They've met twice in the previous two seasons, with Chicago embarrassing the Super Bowl-bound Rams in a freezing 15-6 victory in late 2018 before Los Angeles responded with a 17-7 win last year.
Chicago and Los Angeles are two of the seven NFL teams yielding fewer than 20 points per game this season, while both teams' quarterbacks are in need of a rebound game after similarly disappointing performances in which both threw for 198 yards. Nick Foles went 23 of 39 with an interception in the Bears' win over Carolina, while Jared Goff was 19 of 38 with a pick against the Niners.
After Foles replaced Mitch Trubisky, the Bears haven’t had much better luck moving the ball with Foles starting the past three games than they did with Trubisky the first three. Foles has completed 62.5% of his passes for 878 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions since he took over.
The Bears aren’t getting much from their run game, either. Chicago has 126 yards rushing the past three games, compared to 414 the first three weeks, and the offensive line is down a starter with left guard James Daniels (pectoral) sidelined.