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Week 5 of the 2023 NFL season is already upon us, and "Thursday Night Football" kicks things off with a matchup between the Washington Commanders and the winless Chicago Bears

Washington started 2-0 but has since lost back-to-back games against real contenders, while Chicago is coming off a 21-point blown lead against the lowly Broncos. The best news the Bears have going for them at the moment is that they currently control the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in next year's NFL Draft. Yes, that's already where we are, this early in the season. Washington, meanwhile, is looking to get back on track and right the ship so it can re-enter the NFC playoff picture. 

Which of these two struggling teams will end up in the win column? We'll find out soon enough. Before we break down the matchup, here's a look at how you can watch the game.

How to watch 

Date: Thursday, Oct. 5 | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: FedEx Field (North Englewood, Maryland)
Stream: Amazon Prime Video
Follow: CBS Sports App   
Odds: Commanders -6.5; O/U 44.5 (via SportsLine consensus odds)

When the Bears have the ball

Chicago's offense finally showed signs of life last week against the Broncos ... at least in the first half. After going 51 of 88 (58.0%) for 526 yards (6.0 per attempt), three touchdowns, and four interceptions through the first three games of the season, Justin Fields went 16 of 17 (94.1%) for 231 yards (13.6 per attempt) and three scores in the first two quarters against Denver. Alas, the second half was a different story, as Fields went 12 of 18 for 104 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a lost fumble as the Bears blew their big lead. 

Chicago has sent Chase Claypool home and is now rolling with D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, and Equanimeous St. Brown as its top three receivers, though rookie Tyler Scott and second-year man Velus Jones Jr. will rotate in as well. Against a Commanders secondary that has looked eminently beatable this season (Washington ranks 23rd in opponent yards per attempt and ranks in the bottom third of the league in both touchdown rate and interception rate), there is opportunity to find success through the air. But the Bears have had success through the air in exactly two of their 16 quarters so far this season, so it's tough to imagine that they'll suddenly rediscover what they found last week. 

The strength of Washington's defense is up front, which presents problems for both Fields and the Bears offense as a whole. Fields tends to hold the ball for too long in the pocket, and that's been the case even over the past two games since he vowed to play more freely and stop thinking. He's taken at least three sacks in every game this season, and he hasn't hit the same type of big plays on scrambles that he did a year ago. Last season, Fields ran downfield on 33.2% of his pressured dropbacks, per TruMedia, and averaged 10.3 yards per scramble. This year, those numbers are down to 18.9% and 7.6 yards per scramble. That's a massive difference.

Fields' yards-per-carry average on designed rushes is also down this season, from 4.5 to just 2.0, and his rushing success rate, per Pro-Football-Reference, is down from 56.3% to 46.5%. The Broncos game was the first time the backs had real success running the ball, with Khalil Herbert breaking out for 103 yards on 18 carries. Washington ranks inside the bottom 10 in opponent yards per carry so far this season, but much of that has come via offensive lines creating yards before contact. Opponents have gained 2 yards before first contact on the average rush attempt this season, the third-highest mark of any team in the league. Chicago ranks 12th in yards before contact per carry offensively, so perhaps there is room for the run game to find success here again.

When the Commanders have the ball

Preseason superstar Sam Howell has been up and down throwing the ball so far this year. He's completing 67.1% of his passes, but averaging just 6.9 yards per attempt and taking a truly astronomical number of sacks. (He's been sacked 24 times in four games, getting taken down on 14.6% of his dropbacks.) He hasn't found much of a rhythm with either Terry McLaurin (averaging a career-low 53.0 receiving yards per game) or Jahan Dotson (down to 27.6 yards per game and ranks 68th in yards per route run among the 71 wideouts who have run 100 routes or more), and he's thrown five interceptions and fumbled twice. 

He had a strong performance against the Broncos in Week 2, but we have since seen that Denver defense get absolutely lit on fire by the Dolphins and then give up the only good offensive half the Bears have had all season, so it's possible that was more about the Broncos than about Howell. He did make some really nice throws during the comeback against the Eagles last week, but he took five more sacks and still averaged just 7.1 yards per attempt for the game. 

That said, Chicago will be without No. 1 cornerback Jaylon Johnson and safety Eddie Jackson, while Jaquan Brisker popped up on the injury report Wednesday and is listed as questionable. This is ... not great for a pass defense that has already allowed the league's seventh-highest completion rate, second-most yards per attempt, and second-most passing touchdowns. Throw in the Bears' pathetic 1.6% sack rate, and it's tough to see how Chicago can force Howell and Co. into an inefficient throwing performance. This is just a defense that puts up very little resistance when teams decide to throw the ball.

Chicago has been able to limit opponents to just 3.8 yards per carry on the ground, posting the league's third-lowest yards before contact per carry figure (0.86 yards), per TruMedia. That indicates this may be a more Antonio Gibson-friendly matchup for the Commanders than one where they try to pound Brian Robinson Jr. between the tackles all night. This should be one of the rare occasions where Howell can sit unbothered in the pocket and try to find those receivers, who should be open against a struggling and injured secondary. 

Prediction: Commanders 23, Bears 17

Chicago's injuries and general ineptitude on defense tip the scales toward Washington here. If the Commanders can prevent Fields from going nuclear as a runner, they should be able to mostly hold the Bears offense in check -- as last week's first half against Denver seems like a clear outlier.

If you want a breakdown on which way to lean for Thursday night's game, then I suggest you go to SportsLine so you can check out Larry Hartstein's pick. Hartstein is a gambling guru who has hit on 26 of his last 36 picks involving the Commanders.