Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears
By: Mitch Light | 10/22/10, 6:00 AM EDT
Chicago native and Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb returns home to lead his team against the Bears, who at 4–2 are tied for the best record in the NFC, despite some glaring weaknesses, especially along the offensive line. The Bears are one of seven teams in the tightly bunched NFC with two losses, while the Redskins are one of four teams with three losses. No NFC team has fewer than two losses.
Keys for the Bears
• Continuity along the offensive line. The plan is to stick with the same five who started last week (left to right) Frank Omiyale, Chris Williams, Olin Kreutz, Edwin Williams and J’Marcus Webb. But that inexperienced group allowed Jay Cutler to take another beating, permitting six sacks. “The Genius” Mike Martz might want to consider shorter drops and quicker passes.
• Run the ball. In their two losses, the Bears have run the ball 16 times and 14 times. Not coincidentally, Bears quarterbacks were sacked 16 times in those two games. It’s especially important for the Bears to pick up significant yardage on first down runs. Their failure to do so has left then in too many 3rd-and-long situations. They have converted just three of their last 40 third downs.
Keys for the Redskins
• A balanced attack. When the Redskins have thrown the ball well, they haven’t been able to run it, and vice versa. The Bears have been at their best defensively when they stop the run game early and come after the quarterback.
• Double-team Julius Peppers. Despite a two-and-a-half-sack game against the Panthers from defensive Israel Idonije, the Bears don’t have another consistent pass-rush threat aside from Peppers.
These teams appear pretty evenly matched, but the Bears have an edge because of the home field and the expected return of linebacker Lance Briggs, who should be back after missing one game with a sprained ankle. When the Bears’ defense (No. 3 in the NFL in points allowed) has been at full strength, it has been dominant for long stretches. Bears 17–13.