NFL Preview: Bears vs. 'Skins in Big NFC Clash

Ricky Rothstein | Updated Oct 04, 2017

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It’s a well-known fact that Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wants to blitz opposing quarterbacks. It’s been the staple of his defenses throughout his coaching career and with the Redskins, he’s got a variety of quality pass-rushers to work with — most notably OLB Brian Orakpo, who leads the team with five sacks.

So if we had to guess, Haslett is drooling at the prospect of facing the Bears this Sunday. Through the first six games of the year, no offensive line has been as leaky as Chicago’s — the Bears have allowed a league-high 27 sacks this year, which included 10 in a game (to the New York Giants) and six last week to Seattle (one of the poorer pass-rushing teams in the NFL).

Needless to say, the Bears are in a state of flux right now — a pretty weird position for a team with a 4-2 record. But numbers can be deceiving; Chicago has lost two of its last three and the lone win came against the hapless Carolina Panthers. The Bears are giving up a ton of sacks, can’t convert on third down (just three of their last 40) and have developed a weird aversion to running the football. Mike Martz’s offensive scheme is using RB Matt Forte primarily in a screen-passing role, which is fine — Forte is one of the best pass-catching backs in the league — but it’s not keep opposing defenses honest. Forte has had more than 12 rushing attempts in a game only twice this year.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) at Atlanta Falcons (4-2)

Against Philadelphia last Sunday, the Falcons suffered several crushing blows. The first game on the scoreboard — Atlanta was lit up by the Philly passing attack and lost 31-17 — and the second directly affected the personnel department. Star CB Dunta Robinson KOed himself while making a big hit on DeSean Jackson, and it appears unlikely he’ll pass requisite concussion protocol and be cleared for the Cincy game. Meanwhile, rookie LB Sean Weatherspoon is still out with a knee sprain.

The Bengals don’t have as many injury issues — they were on a bye last week and took the time to rest up — but that’s not to say it’s a cohesive unit in Cincinnati. DE Antwan Odom got suspended during the bye week and Terrell Owens was fined for breaking the NFL’s social media policy (he updated his Twitter account just an hour before the Tampa game in Week 4).  QB Carson Palmer is still feeling the heat from his awful two-INT performance against the Buccaneers and the defensive line — now without its best pass-rusher in Odom — can’t seem to get to the quarterback. Cincinnati has only six sacks, tied for second-fewest in the league with Buffalo and Minnesota. Tampa Bay has four. The Bengals’ main off-season emphasis on defense was to get more pressure out of its four-man line. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened.

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