The Bears suffered a disappointing letdown game last week against the 49ers but get a shot at redemption this week by hosting Washington, a team that comes in holding an 0-5 road record this year.
In case that sounds familiar, the 49ers also came to Chicago with an 0-5 road record before pulling out the OT victory last week.
The growing pains of this Bears season continue as the team battles injuries and roster shortcomings to come up big some weeks and dropping supposed "easy" games the next. It's what mediocre football teams too.
Washington can definitely come into Soldier Field and beat the Bears. The Bears have been bad at home this season, holding a 1-5 record on the lakefront. Whatever it is, they aren't getting the home results. This is a winnable game but it is far from a gimme.
The team has a 5-7 record that mirrors Chicago's but they actually are leading the dismal NFC East. The Bears are all but eliminated from postseason contention and will have to turn to playing spoiler for other teams and Washington offers a nice chance to do just that.
However, Jay Cutler has struggled in his career against Washington. He's played them twice, losing both games, throwing one touchdown and five interceptions. Now that doesn't tel the entire story though because one of those games he left with an injury (2013) and didn't even finish it. The other game, in 2010, when he threw four interceptions to DeAngelo Hall and threw 40 passes in one of the low points of the first year of Mike Martz.
Those games combine to give Cutler a 46.6 rating and only one touchdown pass versus five INTs. There are plenty of reasons to believe that Cutler will play better against them Sunday, Cutler isn't going to be a key player for me this week.
Running back committee - Regular readers know I don't typically choose position groups but, after last week, I feel like I have to here. Washington ranks 25th against the run allowing 124.2 rushing yards per game, 4.6 yards per carry and having allowed six touchdowns. Against the 49ers fans saw Ka'Deem Carey, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford each get carries and do great things in the ground game. The trio combined for 160 rushing yards and two TDs. They each bring different things to the table. If one of them steps out this week and gets hot, fine, but if each of them can take their carries, embrace their role and grind out yards, it will go a long way to helping the Bears get the win.
Willie Young, OLB - Pernell McPhee is listed as doubtful, Young and Lamarr Houston need to pick up the slack but Young gets the key player nod over Houston. Young had 1.5 sacks last week and has looked more disruptive over the last couple of games than McPhee has, as McPhee has battled his knee injury. Washington's pass offense ranks higher than their rush O (17th vs. 26th) but Kirk Cousins has been sacked only 20 times. In order to get Cousins to turn the ball over, Young will have to get pressure on him consistently.
Alshon Jeffery, WR - The Bears' offense has the last month or so, not being able to score much more than 20 points with any sort of regularity. Hopefully they will finally get Eddie Royal back this week. With Zach Miller stepping into Martellus Bennett's starting TE role, they have a decent cast of pass-catchers finally but Jeffery is still the straw that stirs the drink. Jeffery made only a couple big catches last week but he needs to be dominant for the Bears to get rolling and get downfield. Jeffery hasn't had a 100-yard game or caught a TD since November 9 against San Diego. He is due for a big game.
Who needs to play well for the Bears to win in your opinion?