The 2022-23 season hasn’t gotten off to an ideal start for the 1-4 Washington Commanders or 2-3 Chicago Bears. But this Thursday night presents both teams with a chance to get some momentum going and perhaps change the trajectory of their season.
One area the Commanders have been effective in doing this season is throwing the football. They rank 10th in the NFL with 252.6 average yards per game through the air this season. They will, however, face two challenges this week in Chicago. The first will be injuries to a couple of quarterback Carson Wentz’s favorite targets, wide receiver Jahan Dotson and tight end Logan Thomas. These two have combined to account for five of Wentz’s 10 passing touchdowns so far this season so their absences will hurt the team’s red zone efficiency.
Another concern for Wentz and his passing attack will be their matchup with a Bears secondary that ranks ninth in the league with just 197.2 yards per game allowed through the air. The Bears have also allowed just four passing touchdowns, which is tied for fourth-least in the league. Between the injuries and shutdown secondary, expect Chicago to hold Washington to a minimal output Thursday night.
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Bears Face Strong Commanders Run Defense
Chicago’s running back duo of David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert has been effective this season, combining for a 157.4 yards average per game on the ground, fifth-best in the NFL. That said, Montgomery is coming off an ankle injury that kept him out Weeks 3 and 4 and he may not be back at full strength just yet.
The Commanders have a dynamic young defensive line, but have allowed just the 14th-least rushing yards average per game at 110.6. That figure should shrink throughout the remainder of the season as the young group gets into a rhythm. This could be the week to begin positive momentum in that direction as not only is Montgomery banged up, but the Chicago passing game is so weak that the Washington defense can focus almost exclusively on the run game. I expect Chicago to have a tough time moving the ball through the air and on the ground on Thursday.
Battle in the Trenches
The Washington offensive line has been awful this season. They have paved the way for just 89 average rushing yards a game, fifth-least in the NFL. Lucky for them, this week they face the second-worst run defense in the league, as Chicago allows 170 yards/game on the ground.
The RB duo of Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic is talented enough to be effective, and this could be a breakout week if the O-line can block sufficiently. The Commanders have also allowed the third-most sacks in the NFL with 20, but Chicago’s defense has tallied the third-least in the league with just eight. So again, Washington’s poor O-line may be let off the hook. I expect them to have a rare strong week against a non-threatening Chicago D-line.
As previously mentioned, Chicago has done a good job of run blocking this season but faces a tough task this week and may just be overmatched. In the pass game they have allowed 18 sacks, fifth-most in the NFL. They’ve got a scary matchup in store, as Washington has gotten to the opposing QB 14 times this season, seventh-best in the league. Washington should get to Justin Fields early and often in this one, severely limiting his production.
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Commanders Should Prevail
The Bears are a point favorite and the total for the game is 38 points.
Tight, low-scoring prime time games usually come down to a battle in the trenches. Washington has the extreme advantage in this category on both sides of the ball and should be able to control the game in this way.
Chicago only being favored by a single point at home is not very encouraging, and that’s because the Commanders are going to come into their stadium and beat them. Forget the point, take Washington’s moneyline at -106.
The total should go Under on this game. Between injuries and just flat-out poor offenses, there shouldn’t be much scoring in this one. There shouldn’t be much of a passing game to speak of on either side, so the ball should move down the field rather slowly. Expect minimal touchdowns and lots of field goals, all leading to this one staying under 38.
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