February 17, 2019

Redskins Week 14 Preview: at Chicago Bears

Following a heartbreaking loss to the rival Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, the Washington Redskins travel to Soldier Field in Chicago to take on the Chicago Bears. Both teams sport mediocre 5-7 records, but Washington still has control of the NFC East division lead via tiebreak. Chicago is coming off of a disappointing loss last week to the lowly San Francisco 49ers.

The Bears are in a similar situation as the Redskins this year, with a new General Manager trying to go through a rebuilding process with a younger team, resulting in inconsistent (and many times ugly) play. Jay Cutler, the much-maligned franchise QB, has been relatively steady compared to years’ past, throwing for 14 TDs and 7 interceptions on the season.

The last time these two teams faced each other was two seasons ago at FedEx Field, which ended in a 45-41 victory for the home team thanks to a last-minute TD by Roy Helu. Washington has actually won the last five meetings against Chicago, dating back to 2004, and leads the all-time series, 24-23-1.

Both teams have had their ailments this year, and the Redskins will not have to face Chicago’s big TE Martellus Bennett, who was placed on Injured Reserve this week. Also, star OLB Pernell McPhee is expected to play but will not be 100% because of a knee injury. On the Redskins’ side, ILB Perry Riley is expected to miss Sunday’s game, but they are hoping for the return of ILB Keenan Robinson, who has been hampered by a shoulder injury the past few weeks.

Washington has not been on the road since Week 11 against the undefeated Carolina Panthers, a game in which they committed five turnovers and let the Panthers take complete control and pull away by halftime. Washington must get off to a better start and play safe, disciplined football, or they will be in for a long afternoon.

 

Key Matchups

Redskins’ Big Nasties vs. Bears’ Big Nasties

Rain is expected in Chicago Sunday and the Bears’ playing surface is real grass. This means that the Redskins will be playing some hard-nosed, old school football just like the old days of the early NFL, when these franchises were two of the best. Chicago allows 128 yards per game on the ground, good for 29th in the league, and the Redskins must exploit this.

However, the Redskins’ run game has been non-existent on the road, including an abysmal 14-yard performance in their last road game. The run game was not quite effective enough vs. Dallas last week, but Jay Gruden showed the willingness to not give up on it, mostly using the rookie Matt Jones. Hopefully they do not give up on it this week either, because as I have said almost every week, this team only goes as far as the run game goes.

Redskins’ Secondary vs. QB Jay Cutler

Fair or not, Jay Cutler has had the reputation of a risk-taking “gunslinger” throughout his NFL career. He has been known to throw some untimely interceptions, with 137 over 130 career starts. With possible sloppy conditions forthcoming, Washington must make Jay Cutler attempt tough throws and cause some turnovers.

Washington forced three fumbles last week and intercepted Eli Manning three times the week before, but was not able to capitalize on many of the turnovers. The Redskins must continue forcing takeaways to build momentum, but then go for the kill shot after. WR Alshon Jeffery and RB Matt Forte will be getting a lot of looks in the passing game, so hopefully Joe Barry prepares his safeties and cornerbacks to jump some of those routes and wreak havoc in the Bears’ territory.

 

Redskins’ “Stud” of the Game

TE Jordan Reed

Reed has become QB Kirk Cousins’ favorite target this year because of his sure handedness and masterful route running. However, he has been troubled by holding and offensive pass interference penalties lately, killing potential long drives. If he can minimize the mistakes and keep making big catches, he should be in for a very solid day. If the weather turns out to be nasty, do not be surprised if he is targeted the most of any player on the field.

Prediction

Redskins 20, Bears 23            

Another ugly affair between two of the ugliest teams in the league results in a close loss for Washington once again, and the division falls from their grasp. Cutler plays well enough and Matt Forte has a good day running and catching the football, and Washington loses on a last second field goal by Robbie Gould.

About Seamus Kane

Seamus Kane is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Wizards. A native of Silver Spring, MD, Seamus grew up in the area all his life rooting for the Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, Caps, and Terps. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2014 with a degree in American History and now lives in Washington, DC. His favorite DC sports legend is Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, and his favorite DC sports moment was Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off in the first-ever game at Nationals Park, a game which he attended. You can follow Seamus on Twitter @ShamelessKane

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