This Thursday, two teams will meet in Chicago on short rest in an attempt to get their seasons back on track. The Bears suffered a tough loss in Minnesota after coming back from a large deficit, and dropped to a record of 2-3. Meanwhile, Washington dropped to 1-4 after losing a closely-fought battle with the Titans. Let’s look at the odds and make some predictions for what should be a tough, defensive showdown on the Lake Michigan shores.
Commanders Vs. Bears Betting Odds
This game is being listed as a true pick ’em- you can get either team to cover a 0-point spread at -110 from many sportsbooks. Meanwhile, the points total is set around 38, pretty unsurprising considering the fact that this is a matchup between two bottom-5 offenses in many respects.
Commanders Vs. Bears Prediction
For so many players on this year’s Bears, it’s a prove-it year. This is perhaps the most true for their second-year quarterback, Justin Fields. He had been by far the worst starter in the league by almost any metric through four games, but had an efficient game through the air against Minnesota, while also picking up several big first downs with his legs- and it could have been even better, had a block in the back penalty not wiped out a spectacular 50-yard touchdown run.
The focus of Chicago’s offense thus far, however, has been the running game, spearheaded by the two-headed monster of David Montgomery, who has missed a little bit of time, and Khalil Herbert, who filled in admirably while Montgomery was out, and has complimented him well when both have been active. Advanced metrics don’t love the Chicago defense, but they’re better than league average in points allowed, just slightly worse in yardage allowed, and have been able to come up with a bunch of timely stops, particularly during some strong second halves.
The Commanders haven’t come within a score of winning a game since an opening day squeaker over the Jaguars. Despite a decent yardage output, Washington is only scoring 18 points a game, less than a point more than the much-maligned Chicago offense; and the Commanders are allowing 4 more points per game than the Bears are. This is due in large part to their awful performance in the turnover department, on both sides of the ball; Washington is 31st in the league in turnover margin (-7) as they have only one takeaway, an interception, and 8 turnovers, including a whopping 6 picks from Carson Wentz. Cleaning it up is going to be imperative for Wentz and the rest of the offense, as they face a Chicago defense that has taken the ball away 8 times, half of which were picks.
This is going to be an old-school defensive slugfest, and the Bears are well-versed in those. They’ve also been less prone to upsetting turnovers than the Commanders have, and a couple of those big defensive plays to give the offense a short field could really be the determining factor in this one. I’m going to give Chicago the edge, partially because in close matchups like this one, home field can go a long way. I’m also going to take the under; two defensive-minded head coaches, two struggling offenses, and a short week of practice are a perfect storm for very few points to be put on the board.
- The under is 14-3 in the Bears’ past 17 games against teams with losing road records. This makes a lot of sense considering the Bears over the past couple of years have generally been an “under” type of team, and that Soldier Field can be an unforgiving road environment; scoring there is certainly a tall task for the teams that already struggle on the road
- Washington have covered the spread in their past 5 visits to Chicago, a pretty impressive record considering the aforementioned challenges that road teams have had when visiting the Bears
Commanders Injuries: Carson Wentz (Q), Jahan Dotson (Q), Sam Cosmi (Q)
Bears Injuries: Matt Adams (Q), Jaylon Johnson (P)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Commanders Vs. Bears below.
Justin Fields vs. Washington Secondary
This season, Justin Fields has largely lived and died by the long ball. Yes, this has often meant “death” this season, but there have been some successes for sure. For instance, Fields went deep numerous times during the Bears’ big comeback in Minneapolis this week, and he connected on just 8 passes in a huge opening win against the Niners, but racked up 121 yards and 2 scores on those throws. However, while the Washington secondary has been just below league average thus far, they could make it tough for Fields to implement this specific style of play.
The Commanders’ two best players in coverage by far have been the safety duo of Kamren Curl and Darrick Forrest, garnering outstanding PFF coverage scores of 90.1 and 84.1, respectively. With a pair of safeties that can keep the lid on the defense when Fields wants to go long, the Bears offense will have to attack a pretty mediocre-at-best group of Washington cornerbacks, “headlined” by Kendall Fuller, who has registered nearly 200 coverage snaps this year, the most on the team, but has somehow earned a PFF score in the low 40s. Slicing and dicing on quick, short routes has not been Fields’s preferred approach to passing- in fact, he hasn’t really shown that he can do it at the NFL level- but those opportunities will exist on Thursday, and they may be the best ones available on the field.
Chicago Run D vs. Washington Rushing Offense
It’s pretty likely that if asked to throw frequently, Wentz is going to find a way to turn the ball over once or more. So, one route to victory could simply be to ask less of him- run the ball effectively, control the ball and score points. There’s good news and bad news for Washington when it comes to this approach; let’s start with the good. The Bears have been one of the worst run defenses in the league so far this season. PFF says they’re the third worst, and yardage allowed per game (170) has them just one spot above the bottom. Granted, a lot of this has been due to game script, but the eye test tells you the same thing; the Bears are not competent against the run. According to PFF, their only two genuinely above-average run defenders are cornerbacks, and that is simply not sustainable in the big picture.
The bad news is that Washington themselves are bottom-5 in terms of rushing yardage per game. PFF says the Commanders o-line is dead average at run blocking, but the team’s backs are closer to the bottom when it comes to value added when actually toting the rock. This could be rectified by everyone’s favorite story of the 2022 season; the Alabama grad rookie, Brian Robinson, who made his debut this week after sustaining two gunshot wounds to the leg just 6 weeks ago. It was great to see Robinson healthy, moving, and on a football field this Sunday, but he was less than outstanding. However, given the talent he flashed in college and before the season, it’s reasonable to imagine that he could easily shake off the rust and have a great performance now that he’s had a game to get back in the swing of things and acclimate himself to the NFL.