Second Class Citizens

Two franchises with great traditions. <P> Unfortunately they haven't show it this season. <P> When the Washington Redskins invade Soldier Field today to take on the Bears it won't have the look -- or the feel -- of two franchises who have storied pasts.

The Redskins recorded their 500th regular-season victory as a franchise earlier this season. The Bears have the most victories in NFL history with 642.

Today, both come in with just one each. The Redskins are 1-4, and losers of four straight. The Bears are 1-3 with more questions than answers on an injury-riddled team.

"Outside the locker room doesn't really matter to us," said Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. "We expect to win a bunch of games and expect to be in the playoffs. (We're 1-3), but we still have 12 games left. If we win nine or 10 games, we're in the playoffs and that's what we're trying to do."

Urlacher, who should return from a hamstring injury today, will provide a much needed lift to a team badly in need of reinforcements. Cornerback and All-Pro kick returner Jerry Azumah could see his first action of the season after neck surgery. The Bears defense will face one of the league's most explosive running backs in Clinton Portis, who has 534 rushing yards this season.

"We know Portis is one of the best backs in the league and we've just got to get him on the ground, stay in our gaps -- our gap-control defense," Urlacher said. "If we stay in our gaps, we should be successful."

Offensively, the Bears will be challenged, especially after a horrendous outing from quarterback Jonathan Quinn against the Eagles two weeks ago. The Redskins rank third in the league in total defense, including second against the run. You can bet Washington's game plan will be to stuff Chicago's running game, notably Thomas Jones, and make Quinn prove he can lead the team.

The Redskins are led by defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who served in the same capacity with the Bears the previous five seasons.


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