Note: It is very difficult to write a game preview for Monday night’s game with the Dallas Cowboys without knowing the outcome of the Detroit-Philadelphia game Sunday. Why? Because I think that result will greatly impact the energy in the Bears locker room and the enthusiasm of the faithful on a frigid night at Soldier Field. If Philly beats Detroit, the Bears will have an opportunity to win a single game and put a ton of pressure on the Lions down the stretch. Will they end up winning the division? More than likely not. But I don’t think it’ll be because Detroit wins out.
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
BUT WHAT FOOTBALL REASONS, JEFF?
- Bears are 4-2 at home. Cowboys are 2-4 on the road. That, folks, is a trend.
- Jeff Hughes will be sitting around the fifty yard-line. And we know the Bears never lose when he’s in attendance! (True fact, the Bears have never lost a primetime home game I’ve attended. This includes three fairly significant upsets.)
- As bad as the Bears defense has been, the Cowboys defense is statistically worse. Dallas will have no conceivable means of dealing with the abundance of weapons presented by the Bears. Think about how many different ways the Bears can attack opponents these days.
- Bears are most vulnerable against the run (see below) but the biggest knock on the Cowboys coaching staff this season has been their propensity to abandon the run too early in games. If the Bears can get just a tiny bit of a success in run defense early they could force the game onto Tony Romo’s shoulders.
- I started to wonder midway through last Sunday’s game if Julius Peppers knows he’s now playing for NFL future. I hope he approaches the next four games that way.
- Dallas does a poor job getting to the quarterback.
- I think Devin Hester is going to get some opportunities for returns and I think he’s going to get into the end zone.
DA BEAR CONCERNS (EXTERNAL)
- Concern #1. Who do you want to give the big game to? Demarco Murray? Maybe Dez Bryant will have a game-changing run since that seems to be the new Bears thing? All concerns begin and end Monday night with the Cowboys run game and there’s no reason to believe those concerns won’t be warranted. One might take solace in the knowledge that Dallas is the 26th ranked rushing offense in the sport. Then one would notice the Giants are 25th and Ravens are 29th. Neither struggled in any way to run the ball against the Bears (and both were in Chicago). I’ll set the rushing yards over/under at 171.
- Concern #2. Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan will have watched a ton of tape on the Bears, picked up the telephone, called Jason Witten and said, “This is your week, sir.”
- Concern #3: Josh McCown struggled identifying linebackers in coverage last week, especially at the start of the game. If Sean DOES play, there are few linebackers better in space these days.
DA BEAR CONCERNS (INTERNAL)
- Concern #1. It will be cold Monday night at Soldier Field but if the winds are swirling Josh McCown’s arm strength will be tested. If he can’t cut the ball through the wind and take advantage of the significant mismatch posed by the Bears wide receivers the Bears will have a difficult time moving the ball with any consistency against even this poor Cowboys secondary.
MATCH-UP OF REMARKABLE IMPORTANCE
- Bears CBs Tim Jennings & Zack Bowman v. Dez Bryant. Dez has the Calvin Johnson and seemingly Alshon Jeffery-esque ability to beat his adversary exclusively with his speed and strength and Tony Romo is willing to toss the ball up in the air and let Bryant make plays. (Dez wishes it happened more.) Jennings and Bowman can’t allow Dez to wreck the game.
Sometimes I get sent around the internet, read something and think, “What the hell is this person even trying to communicate?” This from something called The Big Lead:
So if you’re one of those teams a “QB away” from possibly being a playoff team, do you invest $12-15 million in Jay Cutler – no, he’s not worth that, but that’s what he’ll look for…
To me, that leaves two teams: Oakland and St. Louis. Few willingly want to play for the Raiders, so Oakland would overpay for Cutler to land him. St. Louis, in the dome, is intriguing. With two top 15 picks in the draft, they could get a receiver first, make a play for Cutler, and then seriously think about dethroning the 49ers or Seahawks in the NFC West next year.
So Cutler isn’t worth a fair quarterback’s price but is the missing piece to unseat the two best teams in the conference? Does anybody think before they write anymore? Also, Phil Emery had just said this to ChicagoBears.com:
“With the franchise tag being so high for the quarterback position, to use it and not sign the individual to a long-term deal hurts the team because you lose the ability to prorate the amount of guaranteed salary over the length of the contract. Proration lowers the salary cap number in relation to that player’s contract. Obviously the lower the number in relation to the salary cap, the more players you can sign to help your team reach its goals.”
Does that sound like a GM ready to move on from his quarterback? Cutler is coming back.
I LIKE THIS PHOTO
THE MOST INTERESTING PLAYER ON THE FIELD
- Bears DT Jeremiah Ratliff is not just playing him former employers Monday night but also putting together tape over the next month for the entire league to evaluate. Ratliff had a noticeable, positive influence even as the defense allowed Adrian Peterson to sculpt a 200-yard afternoon. Bears need Ratliff to steadily improve over the next few weeks if they’ll have any hope of returning defensively to the Land of Mediocrity.
THESE VIDEOS HAVE EVERYTHING TO DO WITH FOOTBALL
Tweets from me early in the week:
Cutler/McCown combined stats for 2013 (NFL Rank): 63.9% completion (9th), 3,259 yards (6th), 22 TDs (8th), 9 INTs (19th), 94.6 rating (7th). Bears have the right players in the quarterback room.
WRAPPING IT UP IN A FEW SENTENCES
- Bears deliver an inspired performance at home, shut down the Cowboys weapons outside and exploit the Dallas secondary with the best receiving corps in the sport. Bears allow 150 on the ground – the only thing keeping the Cowboys within strike range.
- Chicago Bears 28, Dallas Cowboys 20