The emphasis on X's and O's in coaching battles in this season-opening Bears game largely results from the presence of Sean McVay on the Rams sidelines.
There will actually be a game played with athletes facing each other. It won't be McVay telepathically communicating with a computer to move his pieces around the field.
The Bears face a real problem matching up in several ways against Rams players and this is the case with positions on both sides of the ball.
So far the Bears haven't shown much in preseason but quarterback Andy Dalton remains confident they have the ability to challenge the Rams.
"I just think the way that we've been practicing and what we've been able to do in camp and some of the stuff that we've put together, I think that gives you confidence," Dalton said.
It seems a rather flimsy basis to build a season on, or in this case one single victory over the Rams. And it's the Bears offense facing the most difficult assignments.
Here are the three matchups the Bears will find the most challenging against L.A.
Bears G Cody Whitehair vs. Rams DL Aaron Donald
The Bears had a strong plan in 2018 for Donald and handled him by passing him off up and down the line with good communication. They held Donald to two tackles and a quarterback hit. In the process, they opened up enough holes with their run blocking to get Jordan Howard 101 yards. They did this with James Daniels at left guard and Whitehair at center. Now it's Whitehair and Mustipher combining inside on Donald's side of the line, but it's more of a team approach to stopping Donald because one player alone can't. The next two games they allowed Donald 2 1/2 sacks, five quarterback hits, seven tackles and a pass tipped. If any Bears lineman could handle Donald's explosive quickness, strength and array of pass moves it's Whitehair, who is the best all-around Bears lineman. However, Donald doesn't stay in one place. He'll line up on different sides to take advantage of matchups. They might even get him matched up on tackles Jason Peters or Germain Ifedi at times, or on Daniels now at right guard. If Whitehair can't handle Donald, though, there would be no need to move him up and down the line.
Bears WR Allen Robinson vs. Rams CB Jalen Ramsey
Rarely in an NFL season is Robinson mismatched against anyone but Ramsey has owned him the last two years since coming over to the Rams after the two were teammates at one time in Jacksonville. The eight catches for 85 yards Robinson has had against Ramsey are somewhat deceiving. Robinson had 48 yards on two catches in the second half of the last game after the Bears were falling hopelessly behind. He had six catches for 37 yards in the first six quarters of these matchups. They haven't been able to get him the ball downfield against Ramsey. Ramsey, who had an interception against the Bears last year, is the best in the business and has both the speed and quick-twitch abilities to stay with athletic receivers like Robinson or someone with sub-4.4 spee like Darnell Mooney and Marquise Goodwin.
Bears DB Duke Shelley vs. Rams WR Robert Woods
Woods has made 86 or more receptions each of the last three seasons and facing up against an inexperienced slot cornerback like Shelley, is an invitation for the big play. Woods was held in check by the Bears last year but the Rams hurt them by bringing Cooper Kupp into the slot instead against Buster Skrine. Shelley gives up four inches of height against a crafty route runner who can hurt zone coverage, like the Bears enjoy using. The Bears actually haven't confirmed Shelley is their starting slot cornerback even though he played with the first team throughout training camp and preseason. The other options might be former Ram Marqui Christian or DeAndre Houston-Carson.