1. Don’t let it come down to a kick. Eddy Pineiro’s surprise inclusion on Saturday’s injury report, and official “questionable” status, does leave open the possibility the Bears don’t have a kicker on Monday night. Matt Nagy sounded optimistic about Pineiro’s injury being "minor" and having him available at FedEx Field, but the best thing the Bears can do is make sure they don’t desperately need their kicker to win (as they did last week).
Maybe Pineiro plays, maybe he doesn’t. But this is more of a general key: The Bears need roster talent advantage to take over on Monday night. Pineiro proved he can make the big kick last week, but if he’s at all banged up, it would be best to make sure he doesn’t need to make a kick to win at the end.
2. Hit intermediate throws and downfield shots. The Bears’ offensive line righted itself last week in Denver after a rough beginning of the season, and should provide ample time for Mitch Trubisky to push the ball downfield. Washington only has two sacks and 20 total pressures this year, and doesn’t have the talent in its secondary — even with big names like Josh Norman and Landon Collins — to make plays downfield.
To wit: Carson Wentz completed six of eight intermediate throws (traveling 10-20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage) and threw two touchdowns on passes traveling 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage. A week later, Dak Prescott completed all six of his intermediate throws and hucked a touchdown on a deep ball.
Prescott and Wentz have, of course, looked much better than Trubisky over the first two weeks of the season. But at the very least, the opportunities for Trubisky to push the ball downfield should be there. The 2017 No. 2 overall pick needs to take advantage of those openings when they present themselves.
Succeeding here will require a good run-pass balance, though, because while Washington hasn’t got much out of their pass rush it does feature four former first-round picks (Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen — provided Allen plays) who can still get after a quarterback if a passing play becomes obvious.
3. Don’t get beat on play action. While Washington has one of the NFL’s worst rushing offenses (ranking 30th in yards per rush and rushing yards per game), Case Keenum has been one of the NFL’s most effective quarterbacks when using play action. Rookie receiver Terry McLaurin is a legitimate deep threat of whom Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will need to be aware.
But the Bears’ defense is outstanding, and should be able to generate pressure on Keenum against an offensive line missing holdout left tackle Trent Williams. That could help keep a lid on Washington's offense, which ranks fifth in DVOA, just as effectively as Jackson and Clinton-Dix could.
Prediction: Bears 20, Redskins 17. For those hoping Monday night will be the breakout game for the Bears’ offense, they’ll still be waiting. Washington’s defense isn’t very good, and the crowd atmosphere at FedEx Field won’t intimidate anyone on the Bears’ sideline. But this is still a road game, and the Bears only won one road game by more than a touchdown in 2018 (against a Buffalo Bills team quarterbacked by Nathan Peterman).
The expectation, though, is for the Bears’ offense to be better than it was in Weeks 1 and 2. That may not lead to a 2018-Week-4 level of explosion, but merely getting to 20 points would represent progress for this offense. What’ll be key, though: The Bears’ defense will force multiple takeaways, offsetting a handful of big plays made by Case Keenum and helping secure a narrow victory in Maryland.