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It has been an undeniably strange (and often times frustrating) season for both the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys looked to return to the playoffs and reclaim their NFC East throne. The even looked ready with their opening week win over the New York Giants. Then injuries, inconsistent defense, and a strange running game held them back. The Bears as well, were thought to be a playoff team, but with the implosion of Jay Cutler against Green Bay, it’s hard to know about the team’s performance week in and week out. Both teams are 2-1 though, and will meet Monday night in prime time.
Cowboys running game vs. Bears run defense
This is without a doubt the Cowboys glaring weakness. The team only averages about 77 yards a game rushing. That is not going to cut it in a ball-control, end of game situation. If fact, that is good for 28th best in the league. With Chicago boasting the 6th best run defense in the league (at a no surprising 76 yards per game), it may be tough sledding for DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones all Monday night.
Cowboys passing game vs. Bears pass defense
Tony Romo has thrown pretty well through the first three games of the season (65% completions, over 800 yards passing), but he has trouble with some of his receivers. Romo is a staggering 3 of 12 with an interception when throwing to Jason Witten. That is unprecedented, especially when you are throwing to one of the surer-handed tight ends to ever play the game. Chicago also ranks 6th in the league in pass defense, and have averaged two picks in every one of the first three games.
Bears passing game vs. Cowboys pass defense
Jay Cutler has a cannon of an arm, and one of the best receivers in the game in Brandon Marshall, but can he be consistent? It’s hard to know, with a dominate performance in Week One and then throwing four interceptions against the Green Bay Packers. Dallas, on the other hand, has had a completely dominate pass defense early on in the season, only allowing 132 passing yards a game, good for second in the NFL. The secondary doesn’t produce many picks, but it’s a amazing rebound from last year’s frankly bad unit.
Bears running game vs. Cowboys run defense
The edge of a balanced rushing attack (and a balanced offense), could set the Bears apart in this game. Dallas’s run D is all the way back at 18th, allowing 113 yards on the ground a game. Bears running backs Michael Bush and Matt Forte have nearly the same yards rushing this season, and lead a ground game that is fifth in the NFL in touchdowns. If there is one matchup to exploit in this game, it is this.
Dallas has looked pedestrian on special teams, and other than a solid kicking game, have yet to break a long return, despite Felix Jones being solid. The Bears have one of the best return men in the game (Devin Hester) and one of the best kickers (Robbie Gould)
Jason Garret is still coming into his own as a coach, but aside for falling in love with the pass and some questionable game-management calls, he doesn’t hurt your team to much. Lovie Smith, on the other hand, has lead a team to a Super Bowl, and three playoff wins in his eight year tenure. This one is no contest.
This game is truly hard to call. Both teams could light up the scoreboard in the air, but the Bears have a bit more balanced offense. If Dallas can’t run the ball, they are dead in the water. This could be a 40-35 game or it could come down to talented (but inconsistent) defenses in a 20-16 scrum. They final outcome could go either way, but we trust the Bears and their run game a bit more than Dallas right now.
Playmaker Prediction: Bears 24, Cowboys 21
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