Fans may tune in to Thursday night's matchup between the Washington Commanders and the Chicago Bears to see if the teams are as bad as advertised.
After last week's clunker between the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos delivered no touchdowns, seven field goals, a dozen punts, 25 third down stops, four interceptions and six fumbles, it might be churlish to have any expectations for a classic.
Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz continues to frustrate fans and coaches alike, tossing an interception with six seconds left just outside the end zone to seal Washington's 21-17 loss to Tennessee last Sunday.
But viewers might stay riveted to the action if Bears QB Justin Fields continues on his upward curve after a much-improved display in Chicago's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
|What||Washington Commanders @ Chicago Bears|
|Where||Soldier Field, Chicago|
|When||01:15, Friday 14th October 2022|
|How to watch||Sky Sports NFL, NFL Game Pass & bet365’s Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||WAS Commanders 20/21, CHI Bears|
Fields has had it tough in Chicago since being thrown in as a raw rookie last season. Learning a new scheme under a new head coach this year, there were few signs of improvement in the opening four weeks.
The Bears, who somehow went 2-2 through the first month of the season, were 7.5 point underdogs in Minneapolis and that was looking a little conservative when they fell into an 18-point hole.
That's when things really began to click for the former Ohio State QB, who rallied his team into a position to take a 22-21 lead and almost pulled off another successful drive to answer Kirk Cousins' game-winning TD run.
Fields set career highs in completion rate (71.4 percent) and passer rating (118.8) as he went 15 of 21 passing for a season-best 208 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps he's now gained command of the offense, or the Bears staff have a handle on what he can and can't do, but either way it augurs well for Thursday's matchup with the Commanders' 19th-ranked pass defense.
Commanders QB's deep passes still sparkle Washington will be out to snap a four-game losing skid after winning their opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wentz got progressively worse over the first four games before showing signs of an upturn against the Titans.
He has been sacked 20 times already and thrown six interceptions, but his big arm is what coaches have always loved and the old magic is still there on his deep balls. The former Philadelphia Eagles star has been limited in practice with a sore right shoulder, but downplayed any concerns. However, rookie wideout Jahan Dotson will miss a second consecutive game because of an injured hamstring.
Dyami Brown caught two passes for 105 yards — both of which were touchdowns — last week. But the busiest Washington wideout could be slot receiver Curtis Samuel, 10/11 to have Over 46.5 Receiving Yards, this Thursday.
The team leader with 32 receptions, he will matchup against struggling Bears rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon. Chicago's defense is ranked ninth against the pass in terms of yards allowed, but Vikings QB Kirk Cousins completed 78% of his passes against a weak Bears secondary last week.
Washington converted only one of 11 third-down plays in Week 5 against the Titans and will have to improve for the sake of their defense as much as anything. The Commanders' pass rush win rate puts them a respectable ninth in the NFL while Montez Sweat is holding up well against the run too.
Tennessee star Derrick Henry was held to only 3.6 yards per carry last week and the Titans' offense as a whole produced just 3.9 yards per play.
With defenses likely to be on top and the potential for frequent turnovers, the Under has been a popular play in Total betting. It is now down to 38.0, with the Under available at 10/11. Three consecutive Commanders games have each produced fewer than 40 points with Washington responsible for an average of 11.66 across that span.
Three of Chicago's five games in 2022 have also failed to hit the 40-point mark and they have only broken the 20-point barrier themselves twice. So there could still be some value in taking the Under, which has landed in five of the Commanders' last seven overall and hit in 21 of the Bears' last 29 at Soldier Field.