The Bears will look to win their second straight game and at least maintain a share of first place in the NFC North Sunday when they battle the Washington Redskins (1-4) at FedEx Field.
Playing their only game in a 24-day stretch, the Bears (4-2) are tied for the division lead with the Lions (4-2), a half-game ahead of the Packers (3-2). On Sunday, Detroit hosts the Cincinnati Bengals, while Green Bay plays the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field.
|Brandon Marshall and the Bears will look to improve to 5-2 Sunday when they visit the Redskins.|
Jay Cutler has passed for more yards (1,630) through the first six games of a season than any quarterback in Bears history, and his 95.2 passer rating is well above his 84.8 career rating. He's also thrown multiple touchdown passes in five of the first six games for the first time in his career.
The offense will be challenged Sunday by a Redskins 3-4 defense that features nose tackle Barry Cofield, and outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall tied an NFL record by intercepting four Cutler passes in the last meeting between the teams in 2010.
Generating a more consistent pass rush with their front four remains a top priority for the Bears, who rank 30th in the NFL with eight sacks. The only teams with fewer are the 1-4 Steelers with seven and the 0-6 Giants with five. The 6-0 Chiefs lead the league with 31.
Linebackers Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams, who suffered a season-ending chest injury in last Thursday night's win over the Giants, lead the Bears with two sacks apiece. The defensive line has accounted for only four sacks, with no individual recording more than one.
Rookie Jon Bostic will make his first NFL start Sunday at middle linebacker in place of Williams. The Bears selected Bostic in the second round of the draft. He was the first linebacker the team has chosen in the first two rounds since Brian Urlacher was taken ninth overall in 2000.
Bostic had a stellar preseason. The 6-1, 245-pounder returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown against the Panthers, delivered a highlight-reel hit that caused an incompletion versus the Chargers and led the Bears with eight tackles against the Raiders.
The defense must contain Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin sustained a serious knee injury in last season's playoffs and hasn't performed as well this year as he did during his spectacular rookie season in 2012. But he showed flashes of that form last Sunday when he rushed for a season-high 77 yards in a loss to the Cowboys.
Last season Griffin led the Redskins to the NFC East title by completing 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards with 20 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 102.4 passer rating. He also rushed for 815 yards and seven TDs.
This year he has connected on 59.8 percent of his passes for 1,448 yards with six TDs, five interceptions and an 80.4 rating while rushing for 149 yards and no touchdowns.
The lack of a pass rush has contributed to the Bears allowing at least 21 points in each of their first six games for only the second time in the franchise's 94-year history.
The defense has continued to take the ball away and get in the end zone, however. The Bears are tied for second in the NFL with 17 takeaways and have scored four defensive touchdowns, increasing their total to a league-high 13 the past two seasons.
The defense will be bolstered by the return of cornerback Charles Tillman and defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Tillman sat out the Giants game with a knee injury, while Paea has missed the last two contests with a toe injury. Paea excelled in the first four games of the season, recording six tackles, half a sack and three tackles-for-loss.