Sunday at noon on FOX. Dem Cowboys vs Da Bears. Both teams have shaky offensive lines, "starlet" dating QBs, and a passionate, unforgiving, rabid fan base. Should be lots of fun. The Bears are number 1 in offense and number 2 in total defense, and won; not too shabby. Dallas is number 5 in offense and number 7 in defense... but still lost last week vs the Redskins.
161: Number of passing yards given up by Dallas' defense vs the Redskins
103: Number of yards rushing by the Cowboys last week
20: Number of rushing yards allowed by the Bears defense
Something has to give...
BEARS: Nick Roach (hamstring) is questionable. Briggs (ankle), Forte (knee), Aromashodu (knee) are all probable.
When the Cowboys Have the Ball:
Please hop over to Nique's post about our DL and CBs matching up against the Cowboys (link here). I expect the Cowboys to try and establish their run game to open up the play-action pass game. Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher were just plain awesome last week. They both excelled in the run game and passing game. Our stellar linebacking core needs to have another outstanding game to limit the Cowboys' running game. Then, Julius Peppers and company will be able to pin the ears back and get after Romo.
Key Matchup: Julius Peppers vs Doug Free & Marc Columbo. Free is untested and Columbo is playing for the 1st time in a while because of injury. Peppers played both LE & RE last week and will do so again. Can they hope to contain Peppers?
X-Factor: The Cowboys special teams kick coverage was bad last week; they gave up returns of 34 and 42 yards. The Bears are very good on kick returns. The Cowboys David Buehler shanked a 34 yard field goal attempt. The Bears FG blocking unit is good with Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers as two of the best in the NFL at blocking kicks. The Cowboys punter Matt McBriar was pretty good; he had 6 punts and none of them were returned. 3 were downed inside the 20. One of his punts went for 57 yards.
When the Bears Have the Ball:
The Bears' offensive line is in the spotlight again. They allowed 4 sacks and 7 QB hits last week. Dallas has a formidable defensive line with DEs Marcus Spears and Igor Olshansky along with Pro-Bowl Nose Tackle Jay Ratliff. Add in 3-4 rushing outside linebackers Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware and that means trouble for Chris Williams, Frank Omiyale and the rest.
Outside of Jay's 22 yards scrambling, the Bears offensive line only generated 79 yards rushing with a 3.0 yards per carry average. Dallas only allowed 89 yards rushing to the Redskins, so they can stop the run. The Bears offense will have their hands full, especially the offensive line.
Key Matchup: DeMarcus Ware vs. Chris Williams. CW got schooled by Kamerion Wimbley of Oakland in the preseason and again by Kyle Vanden Bosch of Detroit last week. Ware is an ELITE pass rusher. Williams has not shown the ability to win such a battle one-on-one. Look for the Bears to run at Ware and use the screen pass a lot to slow him down. On other plays, Chris Williams will need help from Garza, a TE, and/or a RB.
X-Factor: The Tight Ends. Of all the Redskins' on offense, Chris Cooley had the best day vs. the Cowboys last week (6 catches for 80 yards). Greg Olsen, Dez Clark, & the $22k poorer Manu could see some nice openings in the defense, especially if the Cowboys blitz Cutler a lot early, which we all expect them to do.