It’s early in the season, but the stakes are very high in this Monday night contest. Both teams are at 2-1, so the winner will be, at the very least, tied for the lead in their division. For the Bears a win would be even sweeter because it would guarantee to keep them at least a game ahead of Detroit and Green Bay — the two strongest contenders in the NFC North. These teams are not major rivals or familiar opponents — this is just their fourth meeting since 1998 — but with so much on the line the intensity will be high.
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Beyond the win both sides will be looking to improve their games in these circumstances. The Bears have played just once on the road, and they played by far their worst effort while losing to Green bay in that one. It was ugly. Dallas won their only home game — last week against Tampa Bay — but it was far from a great performance. Their running game, in particular, was horrible, managing just 38 net yards in 23 attempts. To be a serious Super Bowl contender — or at the very least to make the playoffs — Dallas will have to be more successful at home, and Chicago needs to get things going on the road. For one team this will be a step in the right direction on that front.
Bears at Cowboys Betting Storylines
Jay Cutler shows flashes of brilliance, but for the most part he makes it very hard to love his game. Or him, for that matter. This year in particular he has really struggled. He was solid in his opener, but that was against a weak Indianapolis defense so it hardly counts. In Week 2 against Green Bay it’s not an exaggeration to say that he played almost as poorly as it is possible for a quarterback to play. He completed just 40 percent of his passes for 126 yards, was picked off four times, and took seven sacks. On top of all that he showed the typical Cutler charm on steroids. He was better against St. Louis, but still a long way from good.
His numbers are far below past years, and he was far from the most inspiring QB in the league back then. He will almost certainly get better at some point this year because he is better than he has shown. Given his play, though — and, more importantly, his leadership or lack thereof — the Bears are lucky to be at 2-1.
Cutler will have his hands full contending with a Dallas secondary that has been completely reborn. Last year the unit was porous. They allowed 244 yards per game — just the 23rd best in the league. Because the secondary was so bad it was very tough for defensive coordinator to call his ideal game because aggressive pass rushing was too risky if the secondary couldn’t contain the pass. The team changed virtually everything about the secondary in the offseason. It’s too soon to pronounce it a lasting success, but so far the results have been impressive. They have allowed just 137 yards per game. Only Green Bay has done better. In their opener they were tested by Eli Manning and they frustrated and contained him. Even in the lousy effort at Seattle they were effective against the pass. Russell Wilson completed 15-of-20 passes, but that only amounted to 151 yards and a touchdown. The defense will be a big test for Cutler, but if he is on his game Cutler could be a big test for the newly competent defense as well.
The injury report isn’t a major factor for either team with one notable exception. After finally getting his contract situation sorted out, Chicago’s star running back Matt Forte went down in the third quarter of Week 2 with an ankle injury. He missed the game last week, and he seems unlikely to be ready this week as well — or at best not ready to contribute fully. Backup Michael Bush has proven to be more than competent, but he’s still not nearly as dangerous or explosive as Forte. Being able to establish the run early will be key against the Ryan defense, so the pressure will be heavy on Bush’ shoulders.
Bears at Cowboys NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The line opened with Dallas favored by three points — essentially just the home-field advantage. Action has been fairly split at that level, with only a slight edge in action to the Bears. That means that there has been little pressure to move the line. It is available in some spots at 3.5, though, and was even at 4.0 earlier in the week. the total opened at 44, and it has been moving steadily down since then to the current level of 41.5. It did fall as far as 41 before moving back up again, so it is likely to stabilize close to where it is.
The Bears have tended to be offensively effective after a strong performance. They have gone “over” in six of their last seven games following an ATS win. Dallas has gone “under” the total in their last four games as favorite.
Monday Night Football Predictions: Bears at Cowboys NFL Picks
The Dallas defense is still a work in progress, but they were mostly very impressive against the Bucs last week. I have more faith in their ability to take a big step forward than I have in Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense. Dallas is strong at home, and the Bears don’t seem to be tough enough to shine on the road. I wouldn’t want the line to be much bigger, but at three points I like the Cowboys quite a bit. Because neither team has been particularly sound on offense yet this year i also lean solidly towards the under.
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