It’s amazing what a win can do, isn’t it?
I think many fans had very low expectations for the Chicago Bears on Monday night and in general, were angry and resigned to a lot of losses for the rest of this season.
But the team came out and played inspired and got a huge win that should build some confidence in the locker room and put some trust in the players and coaches that they’re on the right track.
Now, it turns to string the positives together. Let’s see some consistency. We’ve seen flashes and moments and wins, but let’s build on it and start seeing it in back-to-back games instead of just back-to-back quarters.
A short week, on the road, against a good Dallas Cowboys team is going to be a test. I have been beating the drum that I am petrified of what Micah Parsons will do to the Bears’ tackles.
Dallas has a lot of talent, even if they’ve been a little up and down.
On paper, these teams are a little closer than it may appear when you look at their records alone.
SB Nation site: Blogging the Boys
Record: 5-2, third in the NFC East
Last week: 24-6 win over the Detroit Lions
Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX
Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbooks, the Cowboys are favored by 9 points.
Bears all-time record against: 12-15, including 0-2 in the postseason
Historical meetings: The Bears and Cowboys tend to meet in primetime. In fact, the last time they played an early Sunday game was week 2 of the 2010 season.
The 0-1 Cowboys hosted the 1-0 Bears.
Dez Bryant scored on a 62-yard punt return and Jay Cutler found Greg Olsen for a 39-yard touchdown. Tony Romo answered with a 1-yard TD throw to Chris Gronkowski.
The Bears defense then stepped it up and kept Dallas out of the endzone for the rest of the game. Cutler added a TD throw to Devin Hester and another to Matt Forte in the fourth to give the Bears a 27-20 win.
Last meeting: Week 14, 2019.
The game was a bright spot for Mitch Trubisky.
He threw three touchdowns; two to Allen Robinson and one to Anthony Miller. Trubisky ran for 63 yards, including a 23-yard score.
The Bears won 31-24.
Injury report: The Cowboys had six players who were either limited or not practicing Wednesday.
- LB Devin Harper (achilles)
- TE Dalton Schultz (knee)
- T Terence Steele (neck)
Did not participate
- S Malik Hooker (hamstring)
- RB Ezekiel Elliott (knee)
- WR Noah Brown (foot)
Offense: The Cowboys offense comes into this week ranked 22nd in points and 29th in yards.
Their passing offense ranks 27th and their rushing offense ranks 14th.
Dak Prescott (61.1 pct cmp/341 yds/1 TD/1 INT) is back after missing five games with his thumb injury but the Cowboys’ offense hasn’t been lighting it up.
Dallas’s main weapons in the passing game are CeeDee Lamb (37 rec/479 yds/2 TD), Noah Brown (25/339/1), Dalton Schultz (14/129/0) and Tony Pollard (11/105/0). Michael Gallup (8/86/1) hasn’t been able to get going since missing games early. Back up TEs Jake Ferguson (8/67/1) and Peyton Hendershot (7/70/1) both have touchdowns as well.
On the ground, it’s unclear if Ezekiel Elliott (109 att/443 yds/4 TD) will play or if Tony Pollard (67/375/2) will get the start. Those are the only two RBs to have carried the ball for Dallas this season.
Dak (5/11/0) and Lamb (4/11/0) could get in the run game as well.
Defense: The Dallas defense enters week eight ranked second in points allowed and sixth in yards allowed.
Their passing defense ranks fourth and their rushing defense ranks 20th.
The Cowboys boast 11 players with at least one sack.
Leading that pack is Micah Parsons (8 sks/13 QB hits/2 FF/2 PD/8 TFL), who is going to be a problem, especially if Larry Borom can’t play.
DEs Dorance Armstrong (5 sks/1 FF/5 TFL/8 QB hits), DeMarcus Lawrence (3 sks/1 FF/2 FR/5 TFL/5 QB hits). Dante Fowler (3 sks/2 FR/1 FF/4 TFL) and Sam Williams (2 sks/2 FR/4 TFL) all have multiple sacks.
Beyond the defensive line, don’t forget about LB Leighton Vander Esch (49 tkls/1 sk/1 PD), CB Trevon Diggs (3 INT/11 PD/19 tkls) and S Donovan Wilson (3 sks/50 tkls/2 PD/1 INT).
And that feels like I’m still just scratching the surface.
Key matchups: Micah Parsons vs. the offensive line. Parsons is incredible and it’s going to to be a menace. He’ll certainly get his at some point, but it’s about not letting him wreck the game.
Using chips, keeping the TEs in, using quick passes, moving the pocket; these are all things that Luke Getsy and the Bears offense are going to have to do to minimize his impact.
On the outside, Darnell Mooney vs. Trevon Diggs is going to be an interesting matchup. Mooney is the Bears’ number one weapon and Dallas is going to want to take him away with their number on corner.
When the Bears are on defense, its going to focus on stopping the Cowboys running game first. Their passing game ranks closer to the Bears, granted some of that was the absence of Prescott.
Elliott and Pollard are a formidable 1-2 punch. But without Elliott, can Pollard be as effective? The Bears run defense has improved a little bit, but still has a lot to prove.
- Dallas is number one in pressure percentage in the league, number one in sacks, fourth in QB knockdown percentage, third in hurry percentage and 10th in blitz percentage
- The Bears and Cowboys rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in passing yards allowed. It could be a rough Sunday for the passing games.
- Dallas ranks 22nd in points per game (19.1) while Chicago ranks 24th (18.0)
- The Cowboys are 20th in rush yards allowed per game (120), while the Bears are 29th (149).
- The Cowboys are 27th in passing yards per game, while the Bears are 32nd. (Notice how close these rankings are?)
- The Cowboys are taking away the football and protecting it better than the Bears though. The Cowboys are +6 in the takeaway margin, while the Bears are +1. Dallas has 12 takeaways and just six giveaways, while the Bears have the same number of takeaways but 11 turnovers.
- Dallas has allowed the fewest touchdowns to opponents, tied with Denver at eight allowed.
- As good as both defenses have been at taking the ball away, Dallas has one defensive score (a fumble recovery TD) and the Bears have none.
- Dallas ranks 10th in third down defense and fifth in red zone defense.
Can the Bears keep the momentum they gained on Monday and turn in another good road performance on a short week?