Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nam Y Huh/AP/Shutterstock (13383240ba) Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, in Chicago 49ers Bears Football, Chicago, United States – 11 Sep 2022
Washington Commanders (1-4) at Chicago Bears (2-3)
Time/TV: 7:15pm CT/Prime Video
The Washington Commanders and Chicago Bears meet Thursday night at Soldier Field in Chicago, as each team looks to end a losing streak and keep their season from descending into oblivion. The Commanders have dropped four straight after a season-opening win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, including a heartbreaking home loss to Tennessee Sunday afternoon in which an interception in the final minute killed a promising potential game-winning drive. Head Coach Ron Rivera told reporters this week that quarterback play has been Washington’s biggest downfall, all but calling out Carson Wentz publicly for his exceptionally poor play through their first five games. Wentz has thrown six interceptions so far this season and is only completing 62.9% of his passes for an offense that hasn’t scored more than 17 points since Week 2. He’s also been sacked a ridiculous 20 times, an issue that falls on the shoulders of the entire offense. Wentz was brought to Washington this last offseason from Indianapolis in hopes that he would reclaim some semblance of his 2017 MVP candidate form, but thus far his marriage with Ron Rivera has been a disaster.
The Commanders’ defense hasn’t been a whole lot better, allowing 25.6 points per game while the team has already turned the football over seven more times than they’ve turned over their opponents. Washington has yet to hold a team under 21 points this year, a trend they’re hoping to turn on its head against a Bears team that struggles offensively even more than they do.
Chicago’s 2-1 start feels like a distant memory after two consecutive road losses have them sitting 2-3, but a win over the Commanders Thursday night would bring them back to .500 and squarely within reach of an NFC playoff spot if they figure things out. The Bears’ formula for winning involves a steady dose of David Montgomery running the football, keeping Justin Fields from needing to make explosive plays happen through the year. They’d prefer to play from ahead, a plan they’re hoping can come to fruition against a Washington team that hasn’t offered much resistance of late. Chicago averages more than 150 yards rushing per game, ranking them fifth in the NFL through five weeks. Another positive for the Bears has been their performance at home, where they are 2-0 so far this year while outscoring their opponents by six points per game.
With both teams ranking in the league’s bottom seven in scoring offense, avoiding turnovers will in all likelihood be a huge factor in who snaps their losing streak. Chicago’s risk-averse style of football that sees them run the ball more than 60% of the time, the highest clip in the league. The Commanders’ 33% rate of rushing the ball is third-lowest in the NFL, and likely a result of trailing late in most of their games. If the Bears can control the line of scrimmage and push Washington back into the type of passing game script that has given them fits, Chicago will likely emerge victorious. Any early turnovers by the Bears leading to scoring by Washington could put Chicago in an early hole though, and Justin Fields’ offense is not built to play from behind.