This is a must-win game for the Washington Redskins. After losing to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the 'Skins are in disarray with a 1-4 record, their bye week gone and a tough first-place schedule looming ahead. After Sunday, the NFC East leader will be 4-3. Washington, who has already lost to both the Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, simply can't afford to be three games out of the top spot in the division at this point.
Yes, the Redskins came back from a similar deficit during the second half of the 2012 season. But that doesn't mean they can rely on the same thing happening this time, especially when you consider that they benefited from the collapse of the New York Giants last year.
The point is that a 1-5 start will probably be close to impossible to come back from. So here's our final preview of what is a hugely important game for Robert Griffin III and Co., along with a prediction.
What Washington must do to win, offensive edition
Run Griffin. We'll see if the Chicago Bears learned from what happened to the Cowboys. Dallas let RGIII put together his best rushing performance of the season by a wide margin, primarily because it ditched zone coverage. Chicago has better personnel on D, but the Bears are banged up. Griffin has to take advantage as a passer, but also as a runner.
What Washington must do to win, defensive edition
Hit Jay Cutler, period. The 'Skins have to really show their teeth on D. When Cutler is pressured, his passer rating is only 62.6, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Otherwise, his rating is 112.1. Washington has to start winning turnover battles, and the key to that is to get into Cutler's face.
Five most important non-quarterbacks
Alfred Morris: He's been a little off this season, but this Chicago front seven is in rough shape after allowing Brandon freakin' Jacobs to hit the 100-yard mark last week. It's imperative that Morris gets into a groove early to make things easier on RGIII.
Trent Williams: So long as RGIII is the quarterback, his blind-side protector will belong on this weekly list.
DeAngelo Hall: Last time he faced Cutler and the Bears, Hall had four picks, tying an NFL single-game record. I suspect they'll bracket Brandon Marshall, giving Hall the ability to take some chances in coverage. Don't be surprised if he makes a game-changing play.
|Four-interception games, last 25 years|
|Date||Four-pick player||Opposing quarterback|
|Dec. 27, 1998||Kwamie Lassiter||Craig Whelihan|
|Oct. 7, 2001||Deltha O'Neal||Trent Green|
|Oct. 24, 2010||DeAngelo Hall||Jay Cutler|
|Pro Football Reference|
Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan: They make this list every week, and this one is particularly big for them. This defense is so vulnerable when they aren't getting consistent pressure.
Injury analysis, Bears edition
It looks like they'll get defensive tackle Stephen Paea back, but Henry Melton is on injured reserve, Charles Tillman is a question mark, and defensive starters James Anderson and Major Wright are both less than 100 percent. This is a D that gets a lot of takeaways, but it's also likely to bend quite a bit. Washington could be in for a big day with all of those defensive injuries.
On offense, Martellus Bennett is also questionable with a knee injury, per Friday's injury report.
Injury analysis, Redskins edition
The 'Skins are in pretty good shape. According to Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Washington, rookie corner David Amerson is expected to play, despite suffering a concussion last week. That will obviously help against that Chicago receiving corps. Amerson's had some ups and downs this season, but the team needs the depth in coverage.
The special teams have been terrible this season, and now they're without Bryan Kehl. That could impact this game. Devin Hester is still Devin Hester.
B/R NFC East blog prediction: Redskins 30, Bears 28
The Bears have had a chance to get some extra rest, but that defense is still banged up. I think the Redskins are more desperate, and I have a feeling RGIII and Morris will come up big. Washington pulls out a close one at home.