We’re only six weeks into the NFL season, and I applaud each and every one of you for continuing to read these articles about a Football Team that doesn’t deserve your constant support.
Yet, here we are. The Washington Commanders sit at 1-4 on the year as they head into the Windy City to take on a dreadful Chicago Bears team on national television. The line has been flipping back and forth, with both teams being 1 point favorites since Sunday. You can check out the current odds for this one courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
It’s been a hectic week out in the DMV, from Ron Rivera’s fiery press conference seemingly throwing QB Carson Wentz under the bus, to injuries holding back some of the Commanders’ best players.
There’s football to be played on Thursday night, and with Washington on life support just six weeks into their 2022 campaign, these matchups are must-see if the Commanders are looking to finally build some much-needed momentum.
Matchup #1: Ron Rivera vs. Himself
Yes, this matchup is as important as any possible face-to-face battle. Coach Rivera has had his fair share of blunders against time while in-game, dating back to his arrival in 2020.
You can make excuses for the team not having much confidence in their offense, but as we head into year three of the Rivera era and now six weeks into their season, there is no more margin for error in this category.
Washington has routinely beaten themselves weekly just as much as their opponents have, yet for a team that surely hasn’t met expectations thus far, this is a reason why.
Rivera and his collaborators must take advantage of time when necessary, squeezing the juice out of every orange possible, especially when they need a spark on either side of the ball. Ron hasn’t given his team much rope to work with, and quite frankly, his ultra-conservative routine thus far has hurt this team far more than if he would’ve just let them fall flat on their face.
In addition, Coach Rivera has also had his fair share of questionable decisions as well, whether it’s a poor decision to challenge a call, or his inability to play certain players according to their skillsets and adjust his scheme towards his players’ strengths, Ron must begin to change his philosophy if Washington is looking to salvage their 2022-23 season.
Matchup #2: Washington’s DL vs. the Bears’ OL
Quarterback Justin Fields has had a shaky start to his sophomore campaign for the Chicago Bears and in large part, it’s due to the turnstyle of offensive lineman in front of him.
Fields has not been very good under pressure this season, throwing three interceptions and committing 5 turnover-worthy plays, but what’s even more alarming is how often he finds himself under pressure.
Fields has had 62 dropbacks this season while under pressure, second highest in the NFL at 48.1% of his total dropbacks! That’s a recipe for disaster when looking to develop your quarterback of the future, or any signal caller for that matter.
The Commanders DL has finally come along with three of their starters placing in the top 30 in terms of pass-rush win rate among their position groups, and they’ll likely have another favorable matchup in front of them come Thursday night.
Should the Commanders defeat the Bears, in large part it’ll be due to Washington’s front four dominating at the point of attack and getting home early and often.
Matchup #3: Bears Secondary vs. Washington’s WRs
The Chicago Bears as a defense have racked up 11 coverage penalties through five games, and now they’ll face a stout Commanders pass-catching unit that should have their way with them, on paper.
The Bears haven’t given up mass chunks of yardage through the air with their longest reception given up being just 55 yards, but they’ve been known to give up plenty of yards after the catch with nearly 600 yards of YAC being taken from them so far.
The Commanders’ pass-catchers can win at just about every level of the field, in and out of space, and can take advantage of a Bears defense that not only misses tackles frequently as they’ve had nearly 20 so far, but they also can get a bit handsy as well.
It makes sense why this game favors Washington in a plethora of ways, but you have to play the games to truly know what’ll happen. This matchup favors the Commanders in some big ways, but this will be far from a gimme game.
Should Washington come out on top, they must take advantage of a quarterback that struggles under pressure. They also, must attack a Chicago secondary that can be picked apart in the passing game and lastly, they just need to make sure that their Head Coach doesn’t get in his own way, once again.