Bears vs. Redskins 2013 game preview: Chicago looking for division lead; Washington trying to stay afloat

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

While the Bears sit in the thick of NFC North race, the disappointing Redskins are hoping for just their second win of the season.

The Washington Redskins had high expectations heading into the 2013 season, but six weeks in, they find themselves near the bottom of the NFC with a 1-4 record. With a showdown against the 4-2 Chicago Bears looming this Sunday, it may continue to get worse.

The Bears opened 3-0 before dropping a pair of games to the Lions and Saints, but got back on track in tight win over the Giants in Week 6. They currently sit tied with Detroit atop the NFC North, though the dangerous Packers are lurking one game back at 3-2.

Despite their one-win record, the Redskins still only sit two games out of first place in the lowly NFC East, and had a chance to pull themselves back into the race last week against the Cowboys. They failed to do so, falling 31-16 last Sunday night. A rally is certainly possible considering their improbable close to 2012 to capture the division crown, but they'll need to start showing serious signs of improvement to do so.

Meet the Redskins

Talk of Robert Griffin III's mediocre play has dominated newspapers and talk shows in D.C., but the Redskins have plenty of problems outside of quarterback play. The offensive line has been awful, and the defense ranks toward the bottom of the league in both total defense and rushing defense.

There have been bright spots, though. Wideout Pierre Garçon has been by far RGIII's most reliable weapon and has 408 receiving yards and two touchdowns through five games. Running back Alfred Morris is building off his spectacular rookie season debut — his 5.2-yard carry average is good for fifth in the league.

Meet the Bears

With rumors that head coach Lovie Smith has interviewed for the vacant USC Trojans job floating around the Web, the Bears head into Week 7 trying to climb back atop the NFC North standings. The offense is clicking on all cylinders, as Jay Cutler's reemergence has helped fuel the league's No. 3 scoring offense. Cutler is averaging 271.7 passing yards per game has thrown 12 touchdowns to six interceptions. Five of those scores have been caught by Brandon Marshall, who torched the Giants for nine catches and two touchdowns last week. Matt Forte has anchored the running game, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and finding the endzone twice.

Chicago took a blow when it lost starting middle linebacker D.J. Williams for the season last week with a torn pectoral. Considering Williams had just 19 tackles through six games, however, it might not be as significant a loss as it seems. Giving up 373 yards per game, the Bears defense has been far from dominant, though with a league-leading 17 takeaways, they've certainly been opportunistic.

Local Takes: Redskins

Mark Tyler at Hogs Haven thinks a shakeup on the offensive line is needed for the Redskins to turn things around in 2013.

The offensive line has been a major problem this season, especially the center and guard positions. Two immediate upgrades are needed for [Kory Lichtensteiger] and [Will Montgomery]. Another may be in store for [Chris] Chester, who is playing well below average. We are getting very little from these three positions as it is, so maybe an infusion of youth is needed. We have a few young guys who should be given a chance to prove they are NFL caliber. If they fail, we are in no worse spot than we are now. If they succeed, then Mike Shanahan may have saved his job.

Local Takes: Bears

With Williams lost for the season, Steven Schwieckert at Windy City Gridiron writes that his replacement at middle linebacker will need to step up.

Williams' replacement will be Jon Bostic, seeing the field on Thursday for the first time. In all likelihood, he'll be pulled off the field in those nickel situations, and when he is on the field, he'll still have that defensive line in front of him. Bostic might not play the pass as well as Williams does (he certainly needs to learn how to read and react to NFL passing games), but he'll get that experience the hard way and a couple long weeks to learn between games, with another eight days before facing the Redskins and fourteen heading into the Packers.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Hogs Haven and Windy City Gridiron, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@HogsHaven

@WindyCGridiron

Prediction

RGIII looked much better on the ground last week, putting up a season-high 77 rushing yards against the Cowboys. That's a good sign that he may finally be regaining confidence on his surgically repaired knee, and could lead to more of the playmaking that made him last year's top rookie, particularly against the struggling Chicago defense. Until he proves he has returned to form, however, it's illogical to think he will be able to hang with Cutler and the high-powered Bears offense.

The pick: Bears 34, Redskins 24

Odds

You wouldn't expect a 1-4 team to open as favorites over a 4-2 team, but the opening line had the Redskins up 1½-point favorites, according to Oddsshark.com. The line has since moved to even in most of the major sportsbooks.

Next Week

The Redskins travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the high-powered Denver Broncos, while the Bears rest up during a Week 8 bye.

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