Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
This NFC clash features a pair of stingy defenses.
Two classic franchises will battle on Monday Night Football when the Dallas Cowboys host the Chicago Bears at 8:20 pm EST on ESPN. Both teams enter the contest at 2-1, and the victor at Cowboys Stadium will secure a positive start towards the goal of making the postseason. The Cowboys and Bears have top ten defenses, so a fairly low-scoring affair is expected tonight in Texas.
When the Dallas Cowboys have the ball:
Quarterback Tony Romo had a solid first game in a win over the defending champion Giants, but he struggled against the pressure of the Seattle and Tampa Bay defenses over the last two weeks. The rebuilt Cowboys offensive line will face a major challenge in containing the ferocious pass rush of the Bears, and running back DeMarco Murray needs to improve on his 30-carry, 82-yard combined total from the last two games. Dallas will also look to get veteran tight end Jason Witten more involved, as he has just eight catches on the year after battling preseason injuries.
The Bears look to their defense to be a catalyst, and they have allowed only 50 points in three games. Chicago is excellent as pressuring opposing signal callers, as Julius Peppers and company already have produced 14 sacks and nine takeaways. The Bears will aim to make Dallas a one-dimensional offense, stopping Murray and forcing Romo (and the Cowboys offensive line) into hurried decisions.
When the Chicago Bears have the ball:
The Bears are still getting comfortable in Mike Tice’s offense, and the rushing attack would be helped greatly by the return of Matt Forte. The talented running back sat out last week’s win against the Rams with an ankle injury, and he is questionable for tonight’s primetime showdown. That puts the pressure on big back Michael Bush and the Bears offensive line to establish the run and keep pressure off quarterback Jay Cutler, who has six interceptions and has suffered 11 sacks already this season.
The Cowboys defense is ranked No. 1 in the league through three games, giving up only 250 yards per contest. Dallas has given up some rushing yardage (4.0 ypc) this year while being stingy versus the pass, so look for coordinator Rob Ryan to focus his charges on stuffing the Chicago run game. The Cowboys have caused only three turnovers through three games, and they would love to change that fact against Cutler and the Bears.
This important NFC contest will simply come down to which offensive line is more effective in protecting its passer. Granted both Cutler and Romo could get rid of the ball quicker at times, but the quarterback who gets the time to make big plays (and prevent turnovers) should lead his team to victory. This game should be decided by one or two critical plays, and we will take the Cowboys at home by a field goal.
Cowboys 23 Bears 20
---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)