Rams at Bears -- Week 2

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago (grass, outdoors)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

Spread: Bears by 7 1/2

Forecast: Sunny, mid-60s

Records: Bears (Overall: 1-1, 0-1 NFC North); Rams (Overall: 1-1, 0-0 NFC West).

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Dec. 6, 2009: Bears 17, Rams 9; Nov. 23, 2008: Bears 27, Rams 3. Series record: Bears hold 51-35-3 edge. The Bears have won three straight.

What matters: The Bears have stewed in hot water for more than a week following QB Jay Cutler's nightmare game in Green Bay and his shoving of teammate J'Marcus Webb. So they have to be aching to play just to distance themselves from that game. Michael Bush is the likely starter for injured RB Matt Forte (ankle) a week after there were questions about whether they committed to the running game enough. The offense faces a far less imposing defense than Green Bay's, with St. Louis ranked 24th overall and against the pass despite the presence of DE Chris Long. The 14th-ranked Bears' defense has eight sacks (second in the league) and has forced seven turnovers -- tied for the league best. But they go up against a Rams' offense led by QB Sam Bradford, who has thrown just one INT.

Who matters: Cutler returns to Soldier Field, where he has led five straight victories and seven in the past eight. He needs a big game to wipe out the memory of the four-INT, seven-sack Packer debacle. Bush gets a fast chance to prove his signing as an insurance policy. The former Raider is in a familiar role, since he started nine games last year as Darren McFadden's injury replacement. WR Devin Hester has only two catches and both in the first game. He has to get going in the offense or rookie Alshon Jeffery will be pressing to be starter opposite Brandon Marshall. LG Chilo Rachal gets his first start as a Bear as former starter Chris Spencer goes to the bench. Rachal started 38 games for the 49ers at right guard. Webb, who got pushed around by Cutler, also was pushed around on the field by Clay Matthews. He's going against second-year player Robert Quinn, who has two sacks.

Key matchups: RT Gabe Carimi vs. DE Chris Long. The Bears have a lot of money and faith invested in Carimi, and have talked endlessly about what a great run blocker he is. They also need him to keep Cutler protected from Howie Long's son, who had 21.5 sacks the past two years, but none this year. Long isn't necessarily the speed rusher type (6-foot-4, 275 pounds), and Carimi has had more trouble with those than by the effort guys. ... Bears WR Brandon Marshall vs. CB Cortland Finnegan. Marshall has faced Finnegan in the past with Denver and Miami, so he shouldn't fall into the same trap other wideouts have -- getting punked by Finnegan's gamesmanship. Marshall was held to just two meaningless catches last week and dropped a TD pass, so he's looking to rebound. ... Bears DE Julius Peppers vs. backup LTs Wayne Hunter or Ty Nsekhe. Peppers has two sacks and his presence has led to several sacks by his teammates. He's facing a journeyman backup in Hunter, who is replacing Rodger Saffold (MCL sprain), but Hunter had a late week ankle sprain which could cause Nsekhe to play. He is a 26-year-old rookie undrafted free agent from Texas State. Peppers has played down in the past to poor competition. ... Bears DB D.J. Moore on Rams WR Danny Amendola. Most of Amendola's yards come over the middle, like the Patriots' Wes Welker. He'll get matched a lot on Moore, who caused controversy with a verbal shot at QB Jay Cutler. Bears players insist Moore is the quickest DB they have, and he'll need to be quick-footed against shifty Amendola.

Injuries of note: Beside Forte's ankle injury, the Bears come in almost completely healthy. Urlacher's stamina and conditioning remain an issue due to his preseason knee surgery, but he played a full game last week. Peppers suffers from plantar fasciitis and had time off during the week but has handled the problem so far.

Inside stuff: During the individual skills portion of practices this week, Hester lined up with running backs and ran some simple routes out of the backfield. Are the Bears planning to deploy him out of the backfield as a receiver -- something they've never done -- or was it in case of an emergency situation if another running back injury occurs this week to Bush? The Bears coaches aren't saying.

Connections: Bears coach Lovie Smith was Rams defensive coordinator from 2001-03. LBs coach Bob Babich held that same position for the Rams in 2003 and DB-safeties coach Gill Byrd was a Rams assistant from 2003-05. Rams coach Jeff Fisher played for the Bears from 1981-85. He was on IR all 1985 when the Bears won the Super Bowl. Rams assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, the former Cardinals head coach, was actually given the Bears head coaching job before Dick Jauron was hired in 1999, but he turned it down when Michael McCaskey only offered two of the four years on the contract as guaranteed money. McGinnis was Bears LB coach from 1986-95.

Stat you should know: Cutler has a passer rating of 97.7 for games following those when his passer rating dips to 50 or lower, like last week's in Green Bay. ... Cutler has 19 TDs and four INTs in games after he has a passer rating of 50. ... Hester has gone nine games without a TD return, second-longest dry spell of his career. ... Bush rushed for 740 of his 977 yards in his nine games as Oakland's starter last year.

Record watch: Hester needs a TD return to tie Deion Sanders for the most combined TD returns (INT-fumble-kick-punt) in NFL history at 19. He had two kick-return TDs against the Rams in 2007.

Looking ahead: The Bears travel to Dallas for a Monday night matchup against the Cowboys (1-1), who have been much like the Bears have -- great the first week, horrible the second.

Prediction: Bears 24, Rams 17

Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSBears.