In the woeful NFC East, the Redskins are tied with the Giants and Eagles for first place at 5-7. The Bears were once on the fringes of wild card contention, but have fallen out of the race recently. They have still defied expectations in a transitional year, and are still a dangerous team. Washington look like the most complete team in the NFC East, especially at home. Kirk Cousins has been an upgrade on RG3 and hasn’t come with any of the drama. A decent receiving corps and defense has helped Cousins, but a struggling running game has hindered Washington’s potential this season. Chicago have played pretty well this season. Jay Cutler has been more efficient and more invested despite a receiving corps hampered by injuries. The running game is sound, while the defense has played better than expected despite a lack of blue-chip talent.
Three Keys to the Game
Kirk Cousins’ road struggles
Cousins has been impressive at home, completing 74% of his passes while throwing 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions in Washington. On the road though, things haven’t been so rosy. Cousins completed 61% of his passes with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. Chicago’s defense may not be one of the league’s best overall, but they rank second against the pass – behind only the Denver Broncos – and could give Cousins some trouble.
Can Washington run the ball?
The Redskins were at their best earlier in the season when they could control the line of scrimmage. But for much of the year, they have not been able to stop or generate the run. Both Alfred Morris and Matt Jones are averaging a measly 3.5 yards per carry, while Morris has not scored a touchdown yet this season. Facing a stout Chicago front seven anchored by impressive rookie defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, the Redskins will struggle to run the ball yet again.
Can the Redskins stop the run?
Unlike Washington, the Bears have had no trouble running the ball this season. Matt Forte is an all-purpose weapon out of the backfield, as is rookie Jeremy Langford – who filled in well during Forte’s injury. The Bears have averaged 115.7 yards per game this season, not including the passing yards accumulated by Forte and Langford. Without the means to stop the run, it will be a long afternoon for Washington.
Match-up to watch
Redskins secondary vs Alshon Jeffery
Washington’s secondary is banged up. Safety Jeron Johnson is out, while fellow safety Dashon Goldson was limited in practice. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall participated fully in practice, but may be nursing a toe injury. With Jeffery now healthy, Cutler has his go-to guy available, and Jeffery has made several big plays this season. Jeffery is tough to cover and is a physical match-up nightmare, and will likely find holes to exploit in Washington’s secondary.
The Bears are healthier right now, despite some absences on defense. But Cutler is playing well and has a good running game to utilise against a weak Redskins front seven. Kirk Cousins will struggle on the road, likely generating a few turnovers for Chicago to exploit.