The Dallas Cowboys are looking to start 6-0 on the road for the first time since 2007. That’s an amazing statistic considering that up until Nov. 16, the Chicago Bears had less victories than the Chicago Blackhawks did at Soldier Field this year.
At 8-4, the Cowboys are tied with the Seahawks and Lions for the final NFC playoff spot, but trail due to three-way NFL conference tie-breaking procedures. There are real concerns that the Cowboys will miss the playoffs, or worse… finish the season 8-8 again.
Heavy will be live-updating the game’s score, stats and highlights as they happen.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears
Thursday, 8:30 p.m. Eastern on NFL Network
Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Bears 45, Cowboys 28, Monday Dec. 9, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois
Scouting the Cowboys
The Cowboys play three of their final four games away from home, which might be a good thing. If you did the math already, the Cowboys are 3-4 in Jerry World.
There are also legitimate concerns about the Cowboys pass defense, however, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has hit the nail on the head by saying that the unit has overachieved this season. The Cowboys defense, on paper, just isn’t very good. Minus Sean Lee, it’s a collection of average to below-average talent. The Cowboys offense has been so good at dominating the clock that the Cowboys defense hasn’t seen as much wear and tear as other bad defenses have in 2014.
The Cowboys enter Thursday’s game fresh off a 33-10 shellacking on Thanksgiving by the Philadelphia Eagles, which made their road to an NFC East title that much harder. They also enter with controversy surrounding the NFL’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray. Despite the last week, Dez Bryant believes that this December will be different for the Boys — translation: they won’t “choke” away a playoff spot during the course of the month like they have in years past.
Scouting the Bears
The Bears are currently in third place in the NFC North at 5-7, and would have to win their remaining four games to even a sniff the possibility of playing in January.
The Bears have their own issues. Specifically, the final four games of 2014 seem like a test for head coach Jim Trestman’s future. Trestman is now 13-15 in his two years, and may not last after this season. Despite the talent and depth on offense, General Manager Phil Emery hasn’t done a good job in recent years of replacing defensive pillars Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers through the draft. Emery went to free agency to sign Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston, but now Allen is past his prime, and Houston is out for the season.
The defense has been bad, ranking 26th in the NFL this season.
Jay Cutler’s 24 TD passes this season seem like a hollow statistic in comparison to his 14 interceptions, and has recently been compared favorably as this era’s Jeff George.
Expecting rookie Kyle Fuller to slow down Dez Bryant with the rest of the Bears front seven how it is seems like a leap of faith. It’s not hard to project the Cowboys offense, at least, eclipsing 300 total yards. The Cowboys will run early and often — Murray will finish with another 100-yard game and a TD.
The Cowboys will win 27-17, winning a crucial conference game and remain undefeated on the road.