The Bears return to primetime Monday night against the Washington Redskins in a game that the fanbase is expecting to win...and win big.
The first two weeks of the 2019 season have portrayed the Redskins as one of the NFL's worst teams, while the Bears have maintained their standing as a playoff-worthy club despite their struggles on offense.
Matt Nagy remains confident in his system and optimistic about his quarterback, however, and the Redskins defense has been earmarked as the get-right game for Mitch Trubisky.
Here are four reasons why Bears fans should feel confident heading into Monday night.
1. Mitch Trubisky has his breakout game
This is the week for Trubisky to have his arrival game in 2019. It has to be. The Redskins defense ranks seventh-worst against the pass; they've given up 287 passing yards per game over the first two weeks. This statistic may be a bit inflated considering Washington faced Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott to start the year and Trubisky hasn't proven himself to be in that tier of quarterback just yet. But he should have his best game of the season in primetime with all of his critics watching (and waiting to strike).
If the Bears want to be considered legitimate contenders this year, they have to defeat teams like the Redskins in convincing fashion. In order to do so, it starts with Trubisky, who after facing stiff competition against the Packers and Broncos, will return to the playmaking form that created so much optimism about his future in 2018.
2. Bears defense will force Washington to be one-dimensional
Despite the incredible statistical start to 2019 that Case Keenum is enjoying, he isn't the kind of quarterback who can win games on his own. The first two weeks of the season are proof of that. He's thrown for more than 600 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions and has a passer rating over 111. Yet Washington is 0-2.
The Redskins offense isn't balanced, and the injury to RB Derrius Guice, who will miss the game Monday night, has made them even more one-dimensional. Sure, Adrian Peterson is one of the greatest to ever play the game, but he's an 'old' Peterson now and is hardly the kind of runner who the Bears need to fear. Chicago should have little trouble shutting him down early in the game. And that's when Khalil Mack will pin his ears back and get after Keenum, who according to Pro Football Focus, hasn't been much better than Trubisky this year.
Keenum has a 56.5 season grade, compared to Trubisky's 48.9. Keenum's 3.33% turnover-worthy throws is actually worse than Trubisky, who's at 2.3% after two games.
If the Bears can force Keenum to throw, the game won't be particularly close.
3. David Montgomery will ground and pound in the second half
Montgomery had a solid game in Week 2's win against the Broncos when he rumbled for 62 yards on 18 carries and scored his first NFL touchdown. His usage rate was promising and should only go up once the Bears get into a situation where they're protecting a lead. That should be the case Monday night.
The Redskins have the third-worst run defense after two games and are allowing an average of 168 yards rushing to opposing offenses. The Bears run-pass rate has been tilted toward Trubisky's right arm -- Chicago is passing 66% of the time, per PFF -- but that'll change in Week 3.
If the Bears get ahead by two scores, Matt Nagy should (and will) feed Montgomery the ball. Expect the early part of the game to provide Trubisky with an opportunity to build some confidence, and when he does, it'll be up to Montgomery to protect the lead. A 100-yard game is well within his reach.
4. Special teams does its part...again
Eddy Pineiro proved in Week 2 that he's not just a talented young kicker; he's clutch, too. And while he tweaked his knee in the Bears' weight room this week, he should be good to go against the Redskins.
But it's not only Pineiro who's been getting the job done on special teams for Chicago.
Punter Pat O'Donnell is the fifth-highest graded player at his position entering Week 3 and has done a reliable job keeping the Bears defense in favorable field position. That matters, especially in games Chicago is supposed to win. A special teams blunder could be the difference between winning and losing, particularly on the road in prime time.
O'Donnell and Pineiro have proven through two games they can be relied on. They'll continue that trend on Monday night.
As for the final score? Check out our prediction here.