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TNF Week 5: Bears-Commanders Preview, Props, Prediction

Two of the most embattled coaches in the NFL meet on Thursday night in what could be a critical game for each of their futures.

Washington (2-2) is coming off a hard-fought overtime loss to Philadelphia, but the fact remains that the ownership group has said Ron Rivera’s fate rests solely on wins and losses. Thursday night presents an excellent opportunity for the Commanders to get back above .500 as they play host to the winless Chicago Bears.

The Bears are 0-4 and coach Matt Eberflus might not see the end of his second season in the Windy City. Chicago does play host to Minnesota and Las Vegas the next two weeks, so a win on Thursday night could go a long way in helping to steady the rocking boat.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields looked more like his 2021 self in throwing four touchdowns last week. Then again, that game was against a Denver team that had given up 70 points the week before. Washington’s defense is far more stout — just ask Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. We think the Bears will cover the 6.0-point spread, but the Commanders have the distinct advantage being at home and with a far superior defense.

Prediction: Commanders 24, Bears 23

Commanders running back Brian Robinson has averaged 12 carries for 57.5 yards over the past two games. However, Robinson going Over 15.5 carries is the third-most popular player prop at BetMGM, drawing 99 percent of the money. The next most popular is Robinson gaining more than 65.5 yards on the ground, which has also been backed by 99 percent of the money.

Robinson hit 19-59 and 18-87 in the first two weeks of the season. So while we’re skittish on his yardage total, we do see Robinson being a workhorse out of the backfield on Thursday night. The Bears are allowing a respectable 3.8 yards per carry, but they’re 18th in rushing defense because they’ve faced the ninth-most carries in the league (30.5 per game) while consistently playing from behind in most games.

Commanders quarterback Sam Howell has only five career NFL starts — 24 fewer than Fields.

On the surface, that appears to be a considerable gulf. Hearing Howell’s teammates discuss his maturity, though, suggests that he can measure up when the teams meet in Landover, Md., to kick off Week 5.

Howell exhibited expert decision-making in Sunday’s 34-31 overtime loss at Philadelphia, going 29-for-41 passing for 290 yards and a touchdown to Jahan Dotson on the final play of regulation. It was a notable turnaround from a four-interception effort in a lopsided loss to Buffalo in Week 3.

Make no mistake, making adjustments remains Howell’s mantra.

“That’s what he does, honestly,” Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “Because he’s such a student of the game, he’s a quick learner. He learns from his mistakes. … It’s really cool to see his maturation process game after game.”

Washington (2-2) and Chicago (0-4) are both in desperate need of a feel-good victory. That goes double — or arguably greater — for the Bears, who squandered a 21-point lead on the way to a 31-28 home loss to the Broncos on Sunday.

Chicago has lost 14 straight games dating back to Week 8 of last season, allowing at least 25 points each time.

The bright side? Fields enjoyed his best statistical showing of the season against Denver, passing for a career-best 335 yards and four scores while completing 28 of 35 passes, including his first 16.

A fourth-quarter strip-sack of Fields produced the game-tying touchdown, however, and he was intercepted on the team’s final possession.

“To be honest, I’d rather throw for 50 yards with three picks and we still win the game than what happened this past Sunday,” Fields said. “At this point, winning is just the No. 1 thing on my mind, so I’d rather do that than accomplish any individual goal or individual statistic that there is. I’m just trying to get a dub.”

Terry McLaurin was the Commanders’ top target in Philadelphia with eight catches for 86 yards.

DJ Moore caught eight passes for 131 yards and a touchdown for Chicago, while Cole Kmet had seven receptions for 85 yards and two scores.

Wideout Chase Claypool won’t travel with the Bears, missing his second straight game. After telling reporters during the week of the Broncos game that he wasn’t being put to optimal use, the team again asked Claypool to stay home.

The Commanders edged the Bears 12-7 in Week 6 of last season, a Thursday night game played in Chicago.

Brian Robinson Jr. scored on a 1-yard run with 7:21 remaining to capitalize on a turnover two plays earlier, and Joey Slye connected on two field goals for Washington.

A 39-yard Fields run put the Bears at the Washington 5 late in the contest, but Chicago was unable to score a game-winning touchdown. A fourth-and-goal completion to Darnell Mooney was inches short of the goal line in the closing seconds.

The Bears enter with a banged-up secondary. Jaylon Johnson (hamstring) and Eddie Jackson (foot) didn’t participate in early-week practices. However, Jackson said, “I’m feeling a lot better,” and his plan is to return against Washington.

Meanwhile, Dotson (ankle) and fellow wide receiver Curtis Samuel are expected to play. Neither player received an injury designation on Wednesday’s injury report released by the team. Dotson initially was listed as limited with an ankle injury, while Samuel also was limited due to a quad ailment.

It should be noted that practice participation levels were all estimations for the Commanders, who did not hold a full practice. Samuel has 17 catches for 178 receiving yards in four games this season, while Dotson has 14 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Chris Rodriguez (illness) is considered questionable.

–Field Level Media

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