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2023 NFL Week 5 Betting Preview: Chicago Bears at Washington Commanders

Oct 13, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the ball against the Washington Commanders during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Bears (0-4) at Commanders (2-2)

Spread: Commanders -6

Total: 44.5

Weather: No current concerns

The Line Report

The spread for this contest opened as Washington Commanders -7. It then moved down to Commanders -6 Tuesday afternoon.

The total for this matchup opened at 44 points and has since increased slightly to 44.5 points.

Commanders Offense vs. the Bears Defense

The Sam Howell experience has been a roller coaster so far. We saw him shred Denver, who might have the most broken defense in NFL history. We then saw Washington’s offense completely malfunction against the Bills.

Then, last week, the Commanders took the Eagles to overtime — on the road — in a shootout. Howell had at least 290 passing yards in his games against the Broncos and Eagles.

The Chicago Bears bottom-tier pass rush is one of the few groups in the league that can’t exploit Washington’s below-average offensive line. Bears safety Eddie Jackson and CB Jaylon Johnson will miss this contest, meaning Howell and all Commanders’ pass catchers are in a plus matchup.

Brian Robinson is 13th in the league in rushing yards and carries. The Bears have allowed the 11th-most rushing yards and the most receiving yards to running backs this season. Robinson has seven targets to Antonio Gibson’s 10.

Bears Offense vs. the Commanders Defense

Justin Fields is coming off his first 300-yard game and his most productive as an NFL passer. He achieved that against a Broncos defense that consistently left Bears’ pass catchers wide open. Washington’s premium pass rush makes this a more challenging matchup for Chicago in the air and on the ground.

That said, this year, Washington has allowed the sixth-most receiving yards to wide receivers. DJ Moore leads the Bears in targets, receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, target share and air yards share. 

From a usage standpoint, Moore leads all other Bears wide receivers by a considerable margin. Chase Claypool didn’t suit up last week, making speedster Darnell Mooney Chicago’s clear WR2. Moore and Mooney are the only Bears wide receivers we can confidently expect to have a significant role on Thursday night.

Cole Kmet is second on the Bears in targets, receptions, receiving yards and target share. He’s also tied with Moore for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with two.

Khalil Herbert breached 100 rushing yards and double-digit carries for the first time last week. Roschon Johnson has been the primary reserve in the Bears’ backfield, though he significantly trailed Herbert in opportunities last week.

This Is What You’re Betting On in Chicago vs. Washington

If you’re betting on Washington, you are primarily betting against a Bears team that could make coaching changes if Chicago loses this game. From a pure football standpoint, the Commanders’ front four is one of the best in the league. 

Chicago’s offensive line hasn’t been the problem this season, but they’ll have their hands full with Washington’s front. So, a bet on the Commanders is on their premium front. It’s also a bet on their offense playing well against one of the worst defenses in football. 

Chicago’s pass rush has been nearly non-existent this season. If Jackson and Johnson miss another game for the Bears, Washington will get a bottom-tier pass rush and secondary. If you’re betting on Washington, you’re betting on Howell having a big game against that group.

A bet on the Bears is a bet on a team that is, in many ways, on the brink right now. The fourth and one play call late in last week’s game put Matt Eberflus on the hot seat. Chicago has never fired a head coach in season, but if the Bears lose this game, something will have to give. 

A bet on the Bears is a bet on a desperate team stemming the tide. Fields carrying this game probably isn’t what you want to build a bet around, but it’s possible and probably Chicago’s most realistic path to victory. 

Similarly, you don’t exactly want to bet on this Bears’ defense, but betting against Howell is a reasonable stance. In general, betting on an unreliable team on the road on a short week sounds like a suboptimal decision when you say all those things out loud.

Score Prediction: Commanders 24, Bears 20

Ryan’s Recent Betting Record

ATS 2021: 49-31

ATS 2022: 48-32

ATS 2023: 10-10

Props 2022: 60-40

Props 2023: 7-7

Ryan is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. Ryan has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook