I'm not entirely sure how many more times we can refer to an upcoming Redskins game as a rebound game for the team. But so long as the NFC East division remains terrible, we'll do just that.
Although Washington probably isn't a strong pick in your survivor pool this week, the Redskins have a better chance at nabbing their second win of the season against Chicago this Sunday than people think.
Then again, I said something similar last week heading into the Dallas game.
Here's a look at the crucial matchups for the Redskins this Sunday as they host the Bears.
DeAngelo Hall vs. Brandon Marshall
A week after shutting down one of the league's top receivers in Dez Bryant, Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall is set to face a similar task against the Bears Brandon Marshall.
As mentioned earlier this week, Hall's performance against Bryant and the Cowboys last Sunday night was one of his best in a Redskins uniform. Not only did he hold Bryant to five catches for just 36 yards, but Hall also saved a touchdown following a blown coverage by a Redskins safety.
Through six games this season, Chicago's Marshall is putting up impressive numbers—40 catches, 465 yards and five scores. Jay Cutler's favorite target, Marshall's a threat after the catch, and he can be deadly in the red zone.
Hall was undaunted when it came to Bryant's size, skill and physicality, and he'll need to demonstrate that same confidence and resiliency on Sunday when he lines up across from Marshall.
Jay Cutler vs. Redskins Secondary
While the Redskins defense showed improvement in the Week 6 loss to Dallas, fans shouldn't go crowning the unit just yet.
Will the return of Rob Jackson and Jarvis Jenkins help? Certainly. But one good game (213 total yards allowed to Tony Romo and the Cowboys) is entirely too small a sample size to think the Redskins are anything more than the league's 30th-ranked defense, according to Pro Football Focus.
The hiring of Marc Trestman as head coach in Chicago has sparked Jay Cutler's play and turned him into one of the top passers in the league this season. The eight-year veteran quarterback is on pace for career highs in yards, touchdowns and completion percentage.
In Trestman's offense, and with the weapons at his disposal, Cutler is poised to put together a big game against this Redskins secondary if Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett can't get after the quarterback and force him to make errant throws.
Robert Griffin III vs. Chicago Pass Rush
Look for Griffin to have trouble finding the time necessary to exploit Washington's secondary. And that's less on account of the Bears effectiveness at rushing the passer and more on the inability of the Redskins' offensive line to block anyone.
As crazy as it may sound, and despite its obvious struggles, the Redskins offensive line doesn't grade out as one of the bottom-feeding pass-protection units in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. But we've seen plenty of breakdowns through five games this season, including last week when Griffin—because of his porous offensive line—seemingly couldn't take shots downfield.
In their defense, the Redskins' offensive line was built as a zone-blocking unit and not as a line of anchors specializing in protecting a traditional dropback quarterback.
And luckily for Washington, the Bears pass rush is one of the worst in the league (-13.6 according to PFF), ranking 30th with just eight sacks on the year.
Wouldn't it be nice if the Redskins stuck with that no-huddle offense that seems to work so well? You know, the one that caters to the offensive line's talents? Whether or not head coach Mike Shanahan decides to use the hurry-up offense more frequently, Griffin's best bet is to make his reads, quickly get the pass out and use his legs to extend plays when the pocket breaks down.
Even against a team with ugly pass-rush statistics, three-step drops and receivers who struggle to gain separation behind a spotty offensive line can make for a long day for RG3.
Devin Hester v. Redskins Special Teams Unit
The biggest mismatch, by far, for the Redskins this weekend happens to be the easiest to explain.
It goes something like this:
1. Devin Hester is one of the best kick returners in the history of the game.
2. The Redskins special teams unit is easily the worst in the league (ranked last by PFF).
3. Hester plays for the Bears, who happen to play the Redskins this weekend.
4. Watch out, Keith Burns and the Redskins.
Martellus Bennett v. Redskins Coverage
Despite their success at limiting Jason Witten last week (three catches for 27 yards), the Redskins are still susceptible to opposing tight ends. Before Witten, they were repeatedly torched by large-framed, athletic pass-catchers like Brent Celek, Jermichael Finley, Joe Fauria and Mychal Rivera, all of whom scored a touchdown against Washington.
And now the 6'7", 250-pound Martellus Bennett comes to town.
Last week's game is evidence that the Redskins are able to stop a top-notch tight end. But one game is too small a sample size to suddenly think the Washington linebackers have a chance of sticking with Bennett.
Whatever the game plan was last week to shutdown an All-Pro like Jason Witten, Haslett and the Redskins need to install a similar scheme for this week.