The Bears Den: December 09, 2013 - Week 14 Bears-Cowboys news & notes

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The past is for cowards and losers and, for tonight, Bears fans.

Bears work on improving short-yardage offense - Larry Mayer: Preparing to host the Cowboys Monday night, the Bears have focused on improving their short-yardage offense throughout the week in practice.

Offense needs to step up the short game - Bob LeGere: Short-yardage situations have been a long shot for the Bears' offense in recent weeks, and that need to improve tonight in a nationally televised contest at Soldier Field.

Bears lack nasty defensive approach without Briggs - Steve Silverman: Teams that play good defense in the NFL have nasty and powerful tacklers that impart fear into the best RBs and receivers in the game. When Briggs is not on the field, none of the Bears have that characteristic.

Follow WCG on Twitter; like us on Facebook (& click on 'Subscribed to'). Dit-ka! Dit-ka! Dit-ka! Dit-ka! Check out David "OSS" Taylor's CheekyMonkeyArt prints and t-shirts. Den pic in hi-res.

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Bears-Cowboys previews

Game preview - Jeff Dickerson looks at how the two teams match up and gives his prediction.

Opinions differ for 3 Bears facing former team - Bob LeGere: Martellus Bennett, Jeremiah Ratliff and Joe DeCamillis all were Cowboys before they joined the Bears this year. Monday night's matchup against their former team means something different to all of them.

Game preview: QB - Moon Mullin: The Bears have played some good ball with McCown, but they are 2-4 in games he’s played. The offense has gotten only so far and not far enough considering the yardage production.

Game preview: RB - Moon Mullin: The Bears need Forte to be playing his best football late in the 2013 season. But that has not been his pattern in previous years, which does not bode well for an offense putting up respectable yardage numbers but not enough points.

[Video] Game preview - Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico break down Matt Forte's importance for the Bears against the Cowboys on Monday night.

Game preview: WR/TE - Moon Mullin: Martellus Bennett's production has declined over the last six games with McCown as the primary QB. The offense cannot continue its limited use of a TE who was a top offseason signing priority.

Matt Bowen: Scouting the Bears - Just let Jeffery go high for reception: McCown can look to the weak side with receivers Marshall and Jeffery working in tandem to get downfield

Game preview: O-line - Moon Mullin: The 3-4 scheme of Dallas under former coordinator Rob Ryan is now a 4-3, one-gap defense under Tampa-2 proponents in coordinator Monte Kiffin and line coach Rod Marinelli.

Game preview: D-line - Moon Mullin: The Cowboys are expected to test the dismal Bears run defense and the goal is putting Tony Romo in third-and-longs with the Cowboys ranked 23rd in third-down conversions.

Game preview: LB - Moon Mullin: Because the Cowboys can throw out of run personnel groups, the challenge may be on Greene, who comes out in nickel situations.

Game preview: DB - Moon Mullin: The Bears are 2-4 over the last six games despite holding five of the six opponents to a pass-completion percentage of less than 59%. The secondary has been called upon more for run support and come up wanting.

Game preview - Steve Shoup's Keys to how the Bears can beat the Cowboys.

Game notes - Larry Mayer: Bears can grab share of first place with victory; preparing for tonight's cold forecast; injury news.

Game notes - Rich Campbell: Bears' season on (O-)line against Cowboys; injury notes; will Cowboys commit to run game?

Team notes - Bob LeGere: Wind a bigger factor than cold for Bears' offense; facing America's QB; Bears are 3-0 on prime time this season.

Team notes - Bob LeGere: Trestman reached out to Ditka right away; Major Wright returns to starting lineup after missing Vikings game; injury updates.

Team notes - Adam Hoge: Trestman not committing to Cutler's return vs Browns; Major Wright to start; Bears to fight cold temperatures with chicken broth on sidelines.

[Video] ESPN - Matt Forte breaks down what the Bears have been doing to get ready for tonight's matchup against the Cowboys.

Know thy enemy - The Tribune compiles a scouting report on LB Sean Lee.

Game picks - Neither the ESPN Chicago bunch nor the CBSChicago crew are optimistic (though Hub thinks they'll do it).

Updated 18:00 CT / 00:00 GMT

Bears set to battle Cowboys Monday night in Chicago - Larry Mayer: The Bears will look to snap a two-game losing streak and grab a share of first place in the NFC North Monday night when they host the Cowboys at frigid Soldier Field.

Game preview - Michael C. Wright: Five things to keep an eye on Monday night when the Bears host the Cowboys at Soldier Field.

Stats & Info - Rob Nelson: Deep passes will be key in MNF matchup.

[Video] Game preview - Michael C. Wright and Todd Archer look ahead to the Monday Night Football matchup between the Bears and the Cowboys.

Game preview - Marc Sessler: The Cowboys and Bears are very much alive in the NFC playoff race. Who has the edge when two fine offenses -- and two of the worst defenses in football -- clash on Monday night?

Game preview - The Tribune's key matchups, game picks, and thoughts going into tonight's must-win game.

Game preview - Chris Boden with 3 Bears' necessities against the Cowboys.

Bears have to hope Cowboys are too stupid to run the ball - Steve Rosenbloom: The smart thing to do in cold weather is run the ball, and the smartest thing in the entire NFL is to run the ball against the Bears.

More game previews to be found in the Weekend Den.

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Cutler

Jay Cutler rests sore ankle - Michael C. Wright: The Bears held out Cutler from Saturday’s practice, but Marc Trestman stressed the QB didn’t suffer a setback in his rehabilitation from a high ankle sprain.

Cutler on the Titans’ radar - Adam Hoge: The Titans are considering cleaning house and targeting Jay Cutler in the offseason, but don't expect him to go... particularly if Lovie Smith becomes the head coach.

Titans, Texans interested in Cutler? - James Neveau: Multiple teams could be in running for QB if Bears decides they can't afford to keep him.

Bears can’t afford to let Cutler go while they rebuild defense - Rick Morrissey: The Bears are going to need two years to rebuild their defense. Next season wouldn’t be the best time to start over at QB.

McCown has done more than enough to prove he belongs - Adam L. Jahns: Retaining McCown has become just as important as retaining Cutler for the Bears. The two have become intrinsically linked.

Bears more productive with McCown at QB - Brad Biggs: Something for GM Phil Emery to think about when it comes time to talk contract with Jay Cutler.

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Bearsss

Can Trestman make the difference down the stretch? - Mark Potash: After coming up just short of the playoffs under Smith in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, the Bears are hoping Trestman can make a difference.

Bears still have path to the playoffs - Dan Wiederer: It will be an arduous course at 6-6, but seven 9-7 teams have made the postseason in the last five years playing tough down the stretch.

Mike Ditka doesn’t like what he sees on ‘D’ - Patrick Finley: Mike Ditka, whose No. 89 will be retired by the Bears during halftime, sounded disgusted by most modern defenses.

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Ditka

Bears to retire Mike Ditka's number Monday night - Larry Mayer: The Bears will honor legendary former tight end and head coach Mike Ditka by retiring his No. 89 jersey at halftime of Monday night's game against the Cowboys. Ditkagraphic.

Photos - To commemorate "Iron" Mike Ditka's jersey retirement during the Bears-Cowboys game, ChicagoBears.com looks back at the Hall of Famer's legendary career with the Bears.

Bears prep to play with passion of Mike Ditka - Michael C. Wright: Throughout the coach’s tenure with the Bears, Trestman and Ditka have remained in contact by phone and through text messages. Da passion of da Ditka!

Bears retiring No. 89 brings overdue closure - Moon Mullin: Chairman George McCaskey has made it amply clear that the doors of Halas Hall are not just unlocked, but truly open to Mike.

Back in the family - Brad Biggs: Thanks to George McCaskey, 'most iconic Bear alive' is here to stay. Mike Singletary: Ditka all about hard work and fundamentals.

[Video] - Ditka on number-retiring: 'It's a great honor, but it's not necessary'. James Neveau: A long overdue honor.

No. 89 is No. 1 epitomizing Chicago and the Bears - David Haugh: When the Bears officially retire Mike Ditka's number Monday night during game with the Cowboys, they will be honoring a legend in his own time.

Mike Ditka got breaks and made others - Don Pierson: After Mike Ditka's success with the Bears, Tom Landry resurrected him as a player and convinced him to become a coach.

Mike Ditka still commands a national stage - Ed Sherman: After 20 years in the football analysis and marketing businesses, "Iron Mike" remains a valued, and valuable, larger-than-life personality.

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Polish sausage

NFP Sunday Blitz - Len Pasquarelli: Can Bears ignore QB position in the draft? Plus, a look at what’s next for the stumbling Houston Texans, and more from around the NFL.

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Vikings 26, Ravens 29: Ravens defeat Vikings in wild finish. Game report and [Video] highlights from NFL.com.

Know thy enemy: Packers - Falcons 21, Packers 22: Packers keep playoff hopes alive. Game report and [Video] highlights from NFL.com.

Know thy enemy: Lions - Lions 20, Eagles 34: LeSean McCoy's 217 rushing yards push Eagles past Lions. Game report and [Video] highlights from NFL.com.

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Nelson Mandela died late last week, aged 95.

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