Every year, when the National Football League (NFL) passes the midway point of its season, the remaining schedule becomes much more important – for some teams. Squads that still have a chance to make it all the way to the postseason believe, quite properly, that there is something worth playing for, an invitation to the playoffs.
Teams that are already planning next season’s roster have less to play for and, as a result, often perform in a lackluster fashion.
The possibility for uninspired play certainly exists for the visiting team in this game. The Chicago Bears, the former “monsters of the midway,” have won just two of seven games and find themselves in third place in the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC), three-and-one-half games behind the division’s co-leaders, the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings.
The likelihood that the Bears will suddenly “rise up” and win the division is minimal at best. The opportunity to win one of two available Wild Cards seems even more remote. So it is reasonable to believe that the Bears, with little to play for, will offer minimal resistance or competition to the home team, the St. Louis Rams, a squad that has a Won-Loss record of 4-4 in the West Division of the National Football Conference and a reasonably good chance of winning a Wild card.
In fact, the Rams are just two games behind the division-leading Arizona Cardinals which means that first place is still a possibility for this squad from “the gateway to the west.” There is no doubt whatsoever that St. Louis will be highly motivated this Sunday as it begins its “push for a spot in the playoffs.”
This game and those that follow mean a lot to the Rams. If they play hard and win more than they lose, the postseason may beckon. But, if St. Louis “looks past” the visiting Bears, it may find its entire season gets derailed be day’s end. The Bears will be playing for pride and will likely seize the opportunity in this and other games to act as a “spoiler” for teams, like the Rams, that have a chance to play meaningful games in January.
St. Louis must treat this game as important, as just one of several remaining hurdles standing between it and the coveted postseason. The Chicago Bears understand the importance of the game to their hosts this Sunday. They also know that they have an obligation to all other NFL teams to put forth a solid effort and to try hard to upset the Rams.
The Bears have weapons on offense, but a porous offensive line. If things go their way, however, an upset may be “in the cards.’
It seems certain that the Rams will play with drive, determination, spirit and emotion. There is too much at stake for them to play any other way.
Courtesy of Fox Sports