Bears vs. Commanders: Time, how to watch, live streaming, key matchups, pick for ‘Thursday Night Football’
Welcome back to another Thursday night football week in which tonight we will witness a duel between the Chicago Bears and the Washington Commanders Football Team. Chicago got off to a surprising 2-1 start but lost back-to-back games, while Washington has lost four straight after a season-opening win over the Jaguars.
Let’s quickly break down the matchup. But first, here’s how you can see:
Date: Thursday 13 Oct | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: Soldier Field (Chicago)
Streaming: Amazon Prime Video
Consequences: CBS Sports App
opportunities: PICK, O/U 38 (courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)
When the commanders have the ball
Carson Wentz enters this competition in serious danger of being benched in the game if he continues to play the way he has been playing lately. He started the season with back-to-back solid performances against the Jaguars and Lions (57 of 87 for 650 yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions, six sacks, one fumble) but has fallen immensely against the Eagles, Cowboys and Titans (75 of 123 for 740 yards, three touchdowns, three picks, 14 sacks, five fumbles).
Ron Rivera threw Wentz under the bus earlier this week, and if he doesn’t sit down against the Bears, Washington could turn to Taylor Heinicke or rookie Sam Howell. The team even has an incentive to shut down Wentz when it doesn’t look like he’s the answer, because if he plays 70% of the snaps, the third-round pick Washington owes the Colts becomes a second-round pick. The bet here is that sometime, if not necessarily tonight, a change will be made.
Unhelpful are Washington’s injury problems on the corps and offensive line. Sam Cosmi, Jahan Dotson and Logan Thomas will miss this game with injuries and Dyami Brown is doubtful. The Bears will get Jaylon Johnson back from an injury of their own and give them a big, physical corner to keep up with Terry McLaurin on the edge. If Washington can pair him or Curtis Samuel with rookie slotman Kyler Gordon, it would be a much more affordable matchup. The last time the Bears were on prime time television, Gordon was set on fire by the Packers. He hasn’t gotten much better since then. According to Pro Football Focus, Gordon has allowed his opponents in slot coverage to catch 23 of 24 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a passerby rating of 142.4.
Wentz will likely take a sack or three, and Washington’s offensive line isn’t much of a wobble. Trevis Gipson (14 pressings) and Robert Quinn (10) have been Chicago’s biggest pass-rush threats this season, and rookie Dominique Robinson has also blitzed at times.
The Commies have begun removing Antonio Gibson from the backfield roster following Brian Robinson’s return last week. It could be a three-way committee between these two and JD McKissic for a few more weeks if Robinson returns to full strength, but time seems almost up for Gibson, who was comically abused while in Washington to be. (He was a hybrid receiver/running back in Memphis and was used as an early down grinder, almost never playing in passing situations.) Perhaps Robinson can start the running game and help Wentz get back on track with more play. action over.
When the bears have the ball
The Bears have indeed been akin to an NFL passing offense for the past few weeks after making an absurd effort not to throw football in early. Justin Fields only attempted 28 passes in Weeks 1 and 2, and while one of those games was played in monsoon-style conditions, that’s still ridiculous. In Week 3, he was 8 of 17 for 106 yards and two interceptions against the Texans.
Chicago has finally started throwing the ball a little more often in the last two games, and Fields has come closer to rediscovering his chemistry with Darnell Mooney. This still isn’t a high-volume passing offense (he’s threw 43 passes over the last two games combined; Patrick Mahomes threw that many passes against the Raiders on Monday night), but it’s showing signs of life — or at least a pulse.
Fields remains a high-level threat with his legs and has had at least eight rush attempts in every game this season. If Washington’s pass rush wins the fight up front, he’ll have to do some work to create outside of the structure. Chicago’s offensive line has held up better than expected so far this season, but it’s still not a great unit, especially down the middle where Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne can give them some trouble.
Washington is far more vulnerable in the air (29th in the Football Outsiders DVOA) than on the ground (6th), so it will be interesting to see just how willing the Bears are to shift the balance of their offense to passing . They’ve preferred to lean on Fields, David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert to move the ball, but the likelihood of success in that department seems lower here than in some previous games.
Prediction: Bears 17, Commanders 16