The 4-2 Chicago Bears travel to our nation’s capital this week to take on the 1-4 Washington Redskins in what I figure to be a much closer matchup than the records indicate. These teams are dead even all time with a record of 23-23-1. The Redskins beat the Bears 17-14 in 2010; the last time the two franchises met. The Bears, however, still own the NFL record for the most lopsided game in history with a 73-0 drubbing of the Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship. With the historical stuff out of the way, let’s get to what I think Chicago needs to do to win this one:
Offense: As long as Jay Cutler doesn’t continually throw the ball directly to DeAngelo Hall, like he did in the last meeting, I think the offense should be alright. The unit has had its growing pains this season, but I keep seeing improvement from week to week and Washington has been less than stellar on the defensive side of the ball. I think the Redskins’ secondary should have a difficult time matching up with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey and that could be the key in this one. With the Bears defense struggling to stop anyone on the ground, turning this one into a shootout with a strong aerial assault could go a long way toward a Chicago Bears victory. I’m not saying they should abandon the run, but a pass heavy strategy with a few well-timed gashing runs to keep the opposing defense honest should help seal the win.
Defense: This one is worrisome, to say the least. The Bears made Brandon Jacobs look like an all-pro last week and there are very few coaches who can design a run game as well as Mike Shanahan. With all the injuries in the middle of the Bears’ defense, it doesn’t look good for the Monsters of the Midway. That having been said, if Chicago can get some early turnovers that lead to points and the offense executes the strategy I outlined above, Washington could be forced to abandon the run. Otherwise I think we’re in for long day.
Special Teams: While the Bears have been worse on special teams this year than we fans have been used to, the Redskins have been atrocious. Seeing Dwayne Harris rack up all those return yards on them on Sunday night, I couldn’t help but imagine Devin Hester doing those same things. This may be the game he finally breaks one… or four. A special teams touchdown or two and great field position for the offense could be the deciding factor in this one.
All in all, I’m having a hard time predicting this one. I expect RG3 pull out of this slump eventually, but I hope it’s not this week. Mel Tucker is a creative coach and I expect him to figure out a way to get the defense back on track, and I hope it’s this week. That’s a lot of hoping and when it comes down to it hoping’s not worth too much, but I’m just having fun watching this team evolve. What do you guys think? Do the Bears have a prayer of stopping the Redskins rushing attack? Will Jay Cutler pick up where he left off last week or will “Bad Jay” make another appearance?