The world is a cruel, unfair place. The Bears have a long list of wounded, they’ve been overmatched and unprepared through two weeks of the NFL season but they have to suit up and play on Sunday.
The Bears appeared to have a little bit going for them after Week 1. Sure there were some kinks to work out but they had two straight games against rookie quarterbacks coming up.
Then Monday night happened.
Not only did they get their teeth kicked in, by a rookie QB nonetheless, they also lost seemingly a quarter of their roster to injuries.
Now they have to go on the road, with their back up QB, down a starting offensive lineman, a starting cornerback, a starting safety, a starting LB, one of their key OLBs and their starting nickelback.
But, no one is feeling sorry for them. Other than their fans. Because this is a sorry ass team.
Record: 1-1, third in the NFC East
Last game: 27-23 win over Washington
Bears all-time record against: 11-12
Last meeting: 41-28 loss in Week 14, 2014. It was 35-7 in the third quarter, DeMarco Murray rushed for 179 yards. Jay Cutler, by the way, was 32/46 for 341 yards, two touchdowns, plus another rushing TD.
Historical match ups: The Bears are 2-0 at AT&T Stadium, including a 27-20 win in 2010 and a 34-18 win in 2012 on Monday Night Football.
Key injuries: DE Jack Crawford and T Doug Free were limited Wednesday. Tony Romo and CB Orlando Scandrick did not participate. They are missing three of their front seven players due to suspension: Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Ronaldo McClain.
Offense: Led by the rookie QB Dak Prescott, the Cowboys rank 15th in the league in both yards and points. Prescott, much like Carson Wentz, has yet to turn the ball over. The Cowboys are protecting the rookie by concentrating on the ground game with Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas has the ninth most rushing attempts in the league and fourth most rushing TDs with four.
Interestingly, Prescott hasn’t thrown a TD yet. Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley lead the Dallas receiving corps with Beasley and Witten being the rookie signal caller’s favorite targets.
Defense: The Cowboys defense comes in 18th in yards allowed and 13th in points allowed. They have two interceptions, one each from Barry Church and Brandon Carr. Much has been made of the team’s lack of passer rushers due to the aforementioned suspensions. The team has four sacks through two games, one each from Crawford, Scandrick, Tyrone Crawford and Benson Mayowa.
The Cowboys have allowed the 13th fewest rushing yards and the 18th fewest passing yards but have allowed four passing TDs to just one rushing TD.
Key match ups: This is a tough game to read because the Cowboys seem very middle-of-the-pack after two games. The defense has some weak spots but the Bears aren’t in a position to really exploit those shortcomings with their injury situation and overall offensive issues at this point.
Should Scandrick miss the game, that will be a favorable match up for Eddie Royal in the slot. Royal has had a nice start to the season and should get a chance to keep it going even with Brian Hoyer stepping in for Cutler. Alshon Jeffery should get his chances as well, since he’s been dominating everyone. Ideally there will be some running lanes for Jeremy Langford and Jordan Howard because of the number of back ups along the Dallas front seven.
For the Bears on defense, the prospect of their pass rush woes getting better doesn’t hold up since the Cowboys are widely considered to have the best offensive line in the league. However, if Free can’t go, Leonard Floyd would have a back up OL to work against. Sherrick McManis may have to step in for a whole game to replace Bryce Callahan (concussion). McManis will get picked on judging by his match up against Cole Beasley, who is already a favorite of Prescott but also because of his 2015 film.
What to watch for: Any signs of life from Chicago. Seriously, any amount of fight. The bar is so low for the this team right now and they need to rebound, bad. They need a hard fought game so that this season doesn’t really get off the rails. The odds are stacked against them and this isn’t a highly winnable game but if they can stay within a score and make Dallas work for it, it will go a long way.
There are going to be a lot of back ups in this game so keep an eye on the fill-ins and the rookies play. Is Kevin White getting any better? How about Jacoby Glenn? Will Deon Bush and Nick Kwiatkoski make their debuts?
The offensive game plan has to be better, the Bears have to commit to the run early and often. Can they find some running room against the Dallas D?
It’s going to be a tough order.
Key stats: The Cowboys rank 23rd in the league in offensive yards per play (5.1), one spot behind the Bears (22nd, 5.2 YPP).
The Bears have allowed eight sacks in two games while the Cowboys have recorded four sacks in two games, the same number the Bears have.
What are you expecting for the Cowboys game Sunday night?