Redskins vs. Bears

When Joe Gibbs' first Redskins team started 0-5, they changed their offense, stayed confident in one another and listened to the new coach's message. Throughout the ordeal Gibbs was calm, expressing a strong belief that better days were ahead. The players believed him.

Then, in the sixth game, things started to change. And they started to change in Chicago, where the Redskins rolled to a 24-7 win.

We'll find out Sunday if another trip to Chicago in the season's sixth game will be the start of a turnaround or another loss in a season of massive disappointment.

Good sign: The Redskins spent all week talking about maintaining unity in a situation where it would be easy to have little, thanks to the offense's futile performances. That's been the message from the top on down and the players have bought into it. More than anything, that's why this can be turned around. Just don't ask us when.

Where to attack: Washington needs to attack the right side of Chicago's defensive line, running over left tackle Chris Samuels. Philadelphia had success running against the Bears' nickel defense; the Redskins should try the same tactic. Also, Chicago is starting a rookie at corner who is small and not physical in Nate Vasher. Pick on him. Jerry Azumah's return gives them a solid player in the nickel. But the Redskins have a chance at the deep ball against Vasher and R.W. McQuarters. The Redskins have a big edge over these corners. And Washington can't let Urlacher move laterally too often. That means running straight at him.

Be wary of: Thomas Jones. He's done a little bit of everything for the Bears, with 361 yards rushing and another 156 receiving. Jones is a complete package and will give the Redskins fits, if he can find any holes. Offensive coordinator Terry Shea is using him similar to how he used Priest Holmes in Kansas City when he was a Chiefs assistant.

Don't be wary of: Chicago's offensive line. They'll be without over-the-hill guard Ruben Brown, who was downgraded to doubtful with a knee injury. Center Olin Kreutz, one of the best in the business, is banged up, and right guard Mike Gandy is a game-time decision with a hamstring injury. If Gandy's name rings a bell, it's because he's the one who was almost traded for Patrick Ramsey. Gandy's backup, Terrence Metcalf, is terrible.

Watch out for: Defensive tackle Tommie Harris. With teams focused on trying to get at middle 'backer Brian Urlacher, Harris can be dangerous. The rookie is off to a solid start and could be trouble.

Tough matchup: RT Ray Brown vs. DE Adewale Ogunleye. The Redskins continue to be stung by the loss of Jon Jansen. Ogunleye has excellent speed and the Redskins will have to give Brown help in order to slow him. Once again, this means to watch out for blitzes and overloads on the other side. If the Redskins can handle those, they'll finally start to move the ball.

Misleading: The Bears' 1-3 record. Consider their losses: by four to Detroit, by five to Minnesota and by 10 to Philadelphia.

Meaningless stat: Chicago hasn't lost three straight at home since 1997. The Bears have dropped their first two at Soldier Field, with their only win coming at Green Bay.

Prediction: Redskins snap their skid, beating the Bears, 13-7. It's time, isn't it?


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