So the Redskins slipped and blew a great chance to take advantage of the Giants also losing but with that loss combined with a Cowboys win and an Eagles victory the division is wide open once more.
The Cowboys did a good job defensively especially running stunts which caught out the Redskins young offensive line at times and they got to Kirk Cousins early which I do think affected him as he did miss a couple of deep shots in the game.
Defensively conceeding only 19 points, only 1 TD and forcing 3 turnovers looks good but the D didn't really stop the Cowboys much in the 2nd half (they punted only once) and it's clear the run D is still an issue. It was disappointing that special teams took a bit of a backward step after being solid in recent weeks following a rough start to the year. Dallas had several good returns, Hopkins missed a very makeable FG and DeSean Jackson fumbled a punt return. Only Ross' decent kick return helped by a penalty saved their blushes completely.
Let's be honest, no team in the East really deserves a play-off spot but one will get in. Basically the Redskins are a better team than last year but the rest of the division has regressed (and for various reasons).
The team lost another player for the rest of the season when DE Stephen Paea was placed on IR with a turf toe problem. His spot has been taken by former Saints RB Pierre Thomas who had one game with the 49ers this season. he might see action right away this Sunday as Chris Thompson has a shoulder issue and looks unlikely to go. Thomas fits that role as his strength is as a receiving option out of the backfield.
Going back to Paea's injury it does create a worry for the D-Line as Jason Hatcher has missed practice this week with a pinched nerve in his neck but hopefully he'll be ok to go against the Bears. More might be needed from reserves like Frank Kearse and Kedric Goldston though.
This week the Redskins are back on the road so surely it's a guaranteed loss right? Especially against a Bears team that has receovered well from a poor start to the season. However, if you're going to break a losing road streak a team that's 1-5 at home might be the time to do it! I'm sure the Bears see the same opportunity though.
Here's my five keys to the game:
1, Get pressure on Cutler:
Cutler can slice any D on his day, especially if he doesn't get pressured but get him off the spot and he can make mistakes. DeAngelo Hall got 4 picks off of Cutler in this same match-up a few years ago!
2, Be better on 1st down:
Part of the 'Skins rushing issues are on first down so they need to improve this or it gets their options limited on later downs. Get 5 yards and your whole playbook is open. get 1 or 2 yards and you are turning one dimensional and looking to pass.
3, Breeland vs Jeffery:
Thus could be a key match-up. Alshon Jeffery is the Bears big play dynamite. If he can stretch the D it opens up things underneath and all the Bears RB's are pretty dangerous receivers.
4, Move Cousins around:
It's something I don't think Gruden and McVay do enough of, spirints, rollouts, bootlegs. The disadvantage is it cuts the field in half a lot but especially early in the game when the D will respect play action more it's something that should work.
5, Take advantage of turnovers:
The Redskins already have one more turnover than they did have all of last year which is good if you also note that the first three games only brought one turnover. What they aren't doing is punishing opponents when they make a mistake and I'm not sure of the exact stat but it's something like they have the least points off of turnovers this season in the league. Turnovers should bring opportunity and momentum.
I'm going to do it again...predict a Redskins win. I'm not confident but I'm ceetainly not without hope and if they are going to break their road jinx this is as good an opportunity as they'll get. The Bears are no mugs and are extremely well coached but they failed to put away the 49ers last week and like the Redskins, they've still got a ways to go in their rebuild.
Bears 17 - Redskins 20
I talked about Pierre Thomas previously and looking on oddschecker no one is quoting him in the TD markets so it might be worth going with the 22/1 for "any other Redskin" to score first and 7/2 to score anytime as this adds on things like defensive TD's and special teams (depending on who it is of course)
Any "other" Redskin player to score a TD first, 22/1 with Ladbrokes.
Any "other" Redskin player to score a TD at any time, 7/2 with Ladbrokes.