Washington Redskins (5-7) at Chicago Bears (5-7)
The Bears rank just 24th in rate of moving the chains, but have been better when Jay Cutler has been healthy this season. In Cutler’s 10 starts, they’ve moved the chains at a 71.60% rate, as opposed to 56.25% in the 2 games Cutler missed his injury. Granted, those two games Cutler missed were against Seattle and Arizona, arguably the two toughest defenses they’ve faced, so they probably wouldn’t have had much success either way, but this is just the Bears’ 6th game with Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Alshon Jeffery all healthy so they are probably more talented than their rank in rate of moving the chains suggests.
The Bears rank 15th in rate of moving the chains differential, despite a below average offense, because of an above average defense that ranks 10th in rate of moving the chains allowed. Vic Fangio has done a fantastic job turning this once awful unit around in a hurry in his first season as defensive coordinator. However, they’re expected to be without outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who is having a borderline All-Pro caliber season in his first year in Chicago, for this one, which really hurts.
They’re also missing tight end Martellus Bennett and wide receiver Marquess Wilson, which will make it easier for defenses to focus on Alshon Jeffery. The Redskins rank 23rd in rate of moving the chains differential and have a couple injuries of their own (cornerback Chris Culliver, defensive end Stephen Paea, and middle linebacker Perry Riley), but none of those are that major and about 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less so I don’t think the Bears deserve to be favored by 3.5 here, especially considering they have just 2 wins by more than a field goal and one win by more than four points all season.
The Bears are also in a tough spot, with a trip to Minnesota on deck. With their season essentially over, the Bears could get caught looking past the Redskins to the division rival Vikings. The Redskins, meanwhile, host the Bills next week, an easier game, and one in which they’re expected to be favored. Favorites (like the Bears) are 98-167 ATS before being underdogs (as they will be next week) if their opponent will next be favorites (like the Redskins will be next week). I like the Redskins a good amount.
Chicago Bears 20 Washington Redskins 19
Pick against the spread: Washington +3.5