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Pleased to Meet You: Week 14, Dallas Cowboys

The Bears take on the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. We're previewing this week's matchup.

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After thirteen weeks and twelve games, the Bears find themselves in a bit of a predicament - they're a game behind the Detroit Lions in the division, plus having the tiebreaker to overcome, as the Lions have won both games against the Bears this season. And things don't get easier as the Dallas Cowboys are the opponent this week for the Bears.

Last Year: 8-8, which was good for third in last year's NFC East.

This Year: Remember when everyone in the NFC East had a losing record this year? The Cowboys have risen to the top of that heap, and currently sit at 7-5, which leads the NFC East.

When Last We Met: The Cowboys took on the Bears in week 4 last season, and it was a matchup the Bears won 34-18. The Bears got two interception returns for touchdowns, one from Lance Briggs and another from Charles Tillman. Those two contributed to Tony Romo's five interceptions on the day, as Kyle Orton came in to go 9-10 with a touchdown.

Total Yardage:
3941 (23rd)
Total Points: 329 (3rd)
Passing Yardage: 2920 (15th)
Rushing Yardage: 1021 (27th)

The Bears draw a rushing offense that hasn't exactly been up to snuff this season, but then you're reminded of the efforts they gave up against the Rams, Giants, and Ravens, as well as giving up at least 145 yards rushing in their last six games, and suddenly you don't feel so good about a Cowboys' offense that features DeMarco Murray as well as first-round-pick Travis Frederick at center, a guy that's actually making some difference for the Cowboys' offensive line this year.

Murray's actually run fairly well this season with 4.9 yards per attempt; his problems include only 14.2 attempts per game and the team having the second fewest rushing attempts in the NFL. Behind him, his 897 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns sit Joseph Randle (45 carries, 111 yards, 1 TD) and Lance Dunbar (30 carries, 150 yards, 0 TDs). The Cowboys have the twelfth-most passing attempts in the league, but they aren't scrubs running the ball, especially with Murray.

Speaking of passing the ball, Tony Romo's having a really good campaign, with 24 touchdowns to 7 interceptions and a 97.3 quarterback rating. And Dez Bryant is coming in decently as a pretty good weapon, as he leads the Cowboys with nearly 900 yards and 9 touchdowns. Jason Witten's still getting it done, with 622 yards and another six touchdowns. Then there's Terrance Williams, who's putting up decent numbers with five touchdowns of his own at 24 years old.

Total Yardage:
5059 (32nd)
Total Points: 303 (22nd)
Passing Yardage: 3539 (31st)
Rushing Yardage: 1520 (27th)

A defense that's less productive than the Bears! That's good, right?

Three of the Cowboys' defenders have at least five sacks on the year (DeMarcus Ware, George Selvie, and Jason Hatcher leads the team with nine from the defensive tackle spot). Pass protection's been generally improved this year for the Bears, but they gave up a ton of pressure against the Rams and four sacks against the Vikings (and some of that was on Josh McCown himself), so that makes this an intimidating sight for the Bears at the moment.

Then there's middle linebacker Sean Lee, who's been pretty solid himself this year - four interceptions, one for a touchdown, and second on the team in tackles. Brandon Carr has three interceptions himself, with one for a touchdown, as well as ten pass breakups. In total, the Cowboys have taken away 25 turnovers, which is the fourth most in the league, including a league-leading twelve fumble recoveries.

The big problem with the defense is their 6.9 net yards per passing attempt and 4.8 yards per rush against, which are 27th and 30th in the league, respectively. They can gamble for the ball a bit; when they fail, or when they fail to make a tackle, bigger plays happen.

If the Bears do this...

Alshon Jeffery's been a monster this season, having broken the team record for receiving yards in a game, and then doing it again. Lining up alongside Brandon Marshall is a scary thing for defensive backs. The Bears should have opportunities to advance the ball through the air, especially to their big targets.

If the Cowboys do this...

If DeMarco Murray gets 20 touches, the Cowboys will probably get 150 yards on the ground. Giving up 200-plus yards on the ground the last two weeks isn't a good feeling as a Bears fan.

Closing Thoughts:

The Bears need to get two more wins than the Lions in the next four games. That makes this about as close to a must-win as you can get.