Ten Spot Preview: Bears at Redskins

John Keim takes a look at 10 burning questions going into tonight's game and offers his predictions.

1. What is the Redskins mental state?

All things considered, it's much, much better than a week ago. The locker room felt somewhat normal on Tuesday, which was a good sign as far as their emotional healing is concerned. And more questions were asked about football than Sean Taylor, which has to help the players. Also, the funeral seemed to help them, allowing them to celebrate Taylor and realize they had to move forward.

2. Can they possibly have anything left in the tank?

We'll see. No team has ever endured a stretch like this one, where they not only play two games in five days but do so under a heavy mourning period. Not to mention a funeral in Miami on their one off day. The players will no doubt be ready to play, but it's debatable how much they'll have left. What this team really needs is a weekend away from football and they won't get it until after this game.

3. What's the biggest concern entering this game?

Injuries. This is a depleted team. Just look at the once golden secondary where only LaRon Landry is fully healthy. Shawn Springs has a bad back and it's supposed to be rather cold tonight, which won't help keep it loose. Others are banged up (James Thrash, Antwaan Randle El) and this team can ill afford to play with key guys missing anymore.

4. How much can Randy Thomas help?

Well, he's facing a tough player in Tommie Harris so that won't help. Thomas has had little contact since his Week 2 injury so it's hard to say how he'll do. What will help is that Thomas can pull, something Jason Fabini could not do. And he's better at getting to the second level. His presence should also help free Todd Wade to focus a little more on the edges rather than often having to help inside. Thomas can't be at his former level yet, but he should help.

5. Where have the linebackers been?

Good question. London Fletcher is clearly wearing down, one reason why it's hard to have a small linebacker in the middle. The Redskins have been giving him plays off in practice to save his body. He's simply not been as quick to the ball and this is why. Rocky McIntosh's shoulder injury has been a bigger problem than anyone realizes. All those collisions are wearing him down. The linebackers simply haven't made enough big plays lately. They need to make a couple tonight.

6. Has Joe Gibbs lost it?

That certainly seems to be the case. But blaming him for last week's loss is flat-out wrong. Yes, he bungled the time out situation and he's done curious things in many games this season. But when the team blows golden scoring opportunities in the red zone, they won't win. That was one of the main reasons for the loss; same with the two turnovers by Jason Campbell. That's a bigger problem than Gibbs' end-of-game time out. That's why they need a better game from Campbell and a better night in the red zone.

7. What are the key offensive matchups?

Redskins tight end Chris Cooley should abuse strong safety Brandon McGowan, if that's how the Bears match up. McGown is considered overly aggressive, which the Redskins can work to their favor. Also, along the line it's Thomas against Harris, who has seven sacks, and Todd Wade against Adewale Ogunleye, who has nine sacks. Look for a tight end to again remain on this side most of the night. The Redskins MUST run the ball. The Bears have allowed around 150 yards rushing per game the last eight weeks. Right end Mark Anderson is particularly bad against the run. So watch the Skins run to his side.

8. What are the key defensive matchups?

Springs against receiver Bernard Berrian, who averages more than 15 yards a catch. If Springs can't play, then Berrian could have a big game. It also means the safeties must defend the deep ball well. The Redskins must get pressure on Rex Grossman, who in turn will make killer mistakes. The best way to do so is up the middle with blitzes. Works often against him.

9. Will the Redskins kick to Devin Hester?

Lord, let's hope not. Hester is a momentum changer, so why give the Bears a chance to change the momentum of a game? The kickoffs likely will be high and short and the punts will be directional and possibly out of bounds. Give the Bears 10 extra yards of field to prevent the possible long return. This is not a time to be macho about it; this is a time to be smart.

10. Will the Redskins win?

I've gone back and forth on this one and really want to pick the Redskins. Kind of hard to pick against them after what's happened in the past week. If any team deserves a good night, it's this one. Wednesday for the Washington Examiner, I picked the Bears. But I'm officially changing my pick. The Redskins were very relaxed this week. I think that'll make the difference. Redskins 17, Bears 14.


Breaking Burgundy Top Stories