Chicago Bears Week 14 Preview: Washington


The Chicago Bears take on Washington in a Week 14 battle. Though the two teams have the same record, Washington is tied for their division’s lead. The Bears hope to play spoilers.

It is Week 14 in the NFL and this is where the playoff contenders separate themselves from the pretenders. The Chicago Bears were hoping to be in the former, but they look more to be in the latter.

Washington, however, is in the thick of the playoff race. Being in the NFC Least, excuse me, East, their 5-7 record has them tied for the division lead. Their handle on things could fall off with any loss, so the Bears are hoping to play spoilers.

For some reason, the Chicago Bears just cannot find any magic at home. While they are 4-2 on the road, they are a measly 1-5 at home. It is a trend that continued from last year, when they were 2-6 at home.

“We put a big emphasis on being road warriors,” said Kyle Long. “It’s so hard to go on the road and win in the NFL. I guess we might find that extra something when you go on the road. When you know it’s us against the entire stadium, that kind of gives you that extra juice.

“We have to be able to find that at home. We have to find whatever it is to be able to give these people something to cheer about because it hasn’t happened. It’s been lackluster on our end and we understand that. We take full responsibility for that.”

Something has to give at Soldier Field on Sunday. Washington comes in losing all five of their road games this season, and losing by an average margin of fifteen points.

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears /

Chicago Bears

On offense, Jay Cutler could say hello to a familiar face in Eddie Royal. Royal is still listed on the injury report as questionable, but he has practiced all week, so unless something happens before gametime, expect to see him in action.

It will be important to have Royal in since Cutler and the Chicago Bears lost two targets. Both Martellus Bennett (ribs) and Marquess Wilson (foot) were placed on season-ending Injury Reserved. Royal and Cutler played together in Denver with the Broncos in 2008, so Cutler has a lot of trust with Royal.

Royal is also important because for some reason, Cutler and Alshon Jeffery have not been on the same page in terms of reaching the end zone. Jeffery has not gone scored a touchdown in his last five games.

With the receiving corps in injury hell, the Chicago Bears will need to lean on the running game. They have used Matt Forte, Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey as a three-headed monster to some success. Last week against the Broncos, the Bears rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Washington ranks 25th against the run, so a good dose of it could go a long way to giving Chicago a big win.

A matchup to watch out for is Long against Chris Baker. Baker is the best player on Washington’s defensive line, and has five sacks and three forced fumbles this season. If Long can contain him, it will be a productive day for the Chicago Bears offense.

Defensively, the Bears will probably be without their best player, Pernell McPhee. He is listed as doubtful on the injury report and is not expected to play. Antrel Rolle says he is ready to go, so that will shore up the safety spot.

The Chicago Bears have two former Washington players on defense, and I am sure they are looking to have a good game.

Jarvis Jenkins was let go by Washington after three seasons. He could muster only two sacks in Washington. With the Bears on a one-year, “prove it” contract, he is having his best season. He already has four sacks and is proving to be a great leader, connecting with the veterans and younger players. He will try to show Washington what they are missing.

The other player looking to make a point is Tracy Porter. Porter was also unproductive in Washington (due to injury), and was let go. He is healthy in Chicago, and has solidified a resurgent Chicago Bears secondary. Against the best passer in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, he was targeted 12 times, but allowed just two catches and had an interception. He will shadow DeSean Jackson, so he will have his hands full.

If the Chicago Bears defensive line can put the same pressure on Kirk Cousins as they did to Blaine Gabbert last week, you can expect the turnover-happy Cousins to throw a couple of interceptions. Eddie Goldman leads rookies in sacks, so if he and Jenkins and Willie Young can get in the backfield, it will be a long day for Washington’s offense. 

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The Dallas Cowboys had a field day last week blitzing Washington. The coaching staff had no answer for the blitz, and Washington had trouble moving the ball and getting into the end zone. The Bears may execute the same philosophy, but with a week of watching film, Washington may exploit the hole in the middle that will be there in blitzes.

In that case, the blitzing linebackers will need to get in quickly. Look for Christian Jones to attack the center. Washington’s center and left guard, Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long, have had trouble picking up blitzes so Jones will try to exploit that.

If the Chicago Bears cannot get to Cousins quickly enough, expect another grind-it-out kind of game. The Bears will be running the ball a lot on Sunday, so it could be an ugly game.

Next: Jay Cutler Playing Well, But Chicago Bears Still Need Someone Else

This is a winnable game for the Bears. If they win, they will surpass their win total from last season’s debacle. It would also add confidence that the coaching staff is leading the team in the right direction.