The Chicago Bears welcome Donovan McNabb and the Washington Redskins to Soldier Field this weekend in by far the most important game of the season. A win would push the Bears record to 5-2 heading into the bye week and keep them atop the standings in the NFC North. There is also nothing worse for a team’s psyche than having to sit around for 2 weeks thinking about 2 straight home losses. Combine this with the fact that the Bears head to Toronto to face the Buffalo Bills (possibly the worst team in the NFL) after the bye week in what should be a great opportunity to close the first half of the season with a 6-2 record. And as any true Bears fan should know, the second half of the season is the hardest schedule in the NFL, no question. A 4-4 split would be incredible and potentially unrealistic when you really break it down. Thus, a 6-2 first half record is absolutely mandatory if the Bears want to have any hope of finishing 10-6 and potentially locking up a first round bye for the playoffs in a VERY weak NFC. Sunday’s game is the definition of a must win, I’ll even go as far as to say if the Bears lose, they will absolutely not be in the playoffs. If they win, the dream is still alive…
I’m choosing not to talk about the offensive line this week. Look, we all know the situation, it’s probably the worst offensive line in NFL history and Jay Cutler’s physical health is in serious jeopardy every time he takes the snap from center. I’m not going to dwell on it any longer, so let’s shift our focus to this weekend’s matchup with the Redskins. The Bears are 3 point favorites at home, which means the oddsmakers have no clue who is going to win this game. The Bears defense ranks 3rd in the NFL in points allowed while the Redskins rank 14th. On offense, both teams are averaging just under 19 pts per game. I think it’s pretty safe to say we are in for another low scoring affair.
It’s mostly good news for the Bears on the injury report, All Pro linebacker Lance Briggs will be back on the field after missing last weeks game against Seattle. Briggs was sorely missed as the Seahawks were able to move the ball easier than anyone had anticipated and the Bears ended up losing a game they never should have lost at home. It should also be noted that staring safeties Chris Harris and Danieal Manning both expect to be on the field after having limited participation in practice this week. Cornerback Zack Bowman, guard Roberto Garza, and safety Major Wright should all return after the bye week. The Redskins appear to be fairly healthy although they will still be without starting running back Clinton Portis, which is probably a good thing if you watched Ryan Torrain run the ball on Sunday night vs the Colts. Torrain had 20 carries for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.
So what is my prediction? Obviously the Bears realize they are in a must win situation and it would be very unlikely for them to lose two straight home games. However, the Skins have proven they can win on the road, defeating the Eagles in Philadelphia 17-12 in Week 4. I expect a bounce back game from the offensive line, Jay Cutler, and Mike Martz this week; Bears 24 Redskins 17.
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Written by Tim Lewis