Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears
Soldier Field – Chicago, Illinois
Thursday, December 4, 2014, 8:25 pm Eastern, TV: NFL Network
Opening Line: Dallas -3 1/2
Current Line: Dallas -3 1/2
Opening Total: 50 1/2
Current Total: 51 1/2
Opening Money Line: Cowboys -195 / Bears +165
Current Money Line: Cowboys -200 / Bears +170
Both the 8-4 Dallas Cowboys and 5-7 Chicago Bears are coming off blowout losses on Thanksgiving. Dallas lost at home to the Philadelphia Eagles in a battle for first place in the NFC East. Chicago lost at the Detroit Lions. Dallas is now a game behind the Eagles in the division with another game against them next week in Philadelphia. The Cowboys are also tied with Detroit and Seattle for the two wild card spots in the NFC playoffs, but right now Dallas is the odd team out based on conference record. Chicago is tied with Minnesota for last in the NFC North. The Cowboys travel to Chicago for a crucial Thursday night contest. Dallas is 5-0 on the road this season and 3-4 at home.
Since 2001, Chicago leads the series 3-2 against Dallas. The Bears have won 3 straight games against the Cowboys including 45-28 in Chicago last December. That was the last road game the Cowboys lost.
Dallas is coached by Jason Garrett. The Cowboys lost at home to the San Francisco 49ers 28-17, Washington Redskins 20-17 in overtime, Arizona Cardinals 28-17 and Eagles 33-10. The Cowboys have road wins at the Titans 26-10, St. Louis Rams 34-31, Seattle Seahawks 30-23 and New York Giants 31-28, plus home wins over the New Orleans Saints 38-17, Houston Texans 20-17 in overtime, and against the Giants 31-21. Dallas is 6-6 ATS and the total is 6-5-1 this season. The Cowboys were 3 point favorites against the Eagles and the total was 56.
Chicago is coached by Marc Trestman. The Bears have road wins at the 49ers 28-20, New York Jets 27-19, and Atlanta Falcons 27-13, along with home wins over the Minnesota Vikings 21-13 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-13. Chicago has home losses to the Buffalo Bills 23-20 in overtime, Green Bay Packers 38-17, and Miami Dolphins 27-14, along with road losses at the Carolina Panthers 31-24, New England Patriots 51-23, Packers 55-14, and last week at the Lions 34-17. The Bears are 5-7 ATS and the total is 7.5 this season. Chicago was a 7.5 point underdog at Detroit and the total was 45.5.
Dallas is outscoring teams 25-23 this season. The Cowboys are #9 in scoring and #16 in points allowed. Dallas is averaging 377 yards per game on offense including 232 passing and 145 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys are #8 in total offense and #3 in rushing. Dallas is allowing 364 yards per game including 245 passing and 120 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys are #20 or worse in all three categories. Dallas is 75/156 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 80/172. Dallas has 19 sacks and has allowed 25 this season. The Cowboys are -3 in turnovers. Dallas has two defensive touchdowns and has allowed three this season.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo is battling small fractures in his back after undergoing offseason back surgery. He has played the last 3 games after missing the Arizona game. Romo has completed 68.2% of his passes for 2,718 yards with 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, plus 36 rushing yards.
Running back DeMarco Murray is putting up some MVP like numbers and has 288 carries for 1,427 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 44 catches for 343 yards. He became the first running back in NFL history to rush for over 100 yards in the first 8 games of the season, but has had some fumbling issues. Joseph Randle has 31 carries for 207 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Dez Bryant has 67 catches for 111 yards and 10 touchdowns. Terrance Williams has 30 catches for 482 yards and 6 touchdowns. Tight end Jason Witten has 44 catches for 469 yards and 4 touchdowns. Gavin Escobar only has 8 catches but 3 touchdowns. Twelve defensive players are listed on the injury report.
Chicago is being outscored 28-21 this season. The Bears are #21 in scoring and #30 in points allowed. Only the two win Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans have given up more points this season. Chicago is averaging 340 yards per game on offense including 247 passing and 93 rushing yards per game. The Bears are #20 in total offense and #26 in rushing. On defense, Chicago is allowing 376 yards per game including 271 passing and 106 rushing yards. The Bears are #26 in total defense and #29 in pass defense. The rush defense is #11 though. Chicago is 72/172 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 69/162. The Bears have forced 29 sacks and allowed 30 this season. Chicago is -4 in turnovers. The bears have 2 defensive/ special teams scores and have allowed 3 this season.
Quarterback Jay Cutler has been much maligned this season by Chicago media and fans. Cutler has completed 66.5% of his passes for 3,105 yards with 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and has also rushed for 123 yards on 33 carries with a touchdown.
Running back Matt Forte has 201 carries for 828 yards and 5 touchdowns along with 78 catches for 650 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ka’Deem Carey will also get some carries and catches. Receiver Alshon Jeffrey has 67 catches for 854 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 33 rushing yards. He is probable with a hamstring injury. Tight end Martellus Bennett has 67 catches for 735 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is probable with a foot injury. Brandon Marshall has 58 catches for 660 yards and 8 touchdowns. Kicker Robbie Gould is doubtful with a groin injury. The Bears signed veteran kicker Jay Feely this week to replace Gould. Eight defensive players are questionable or out for Chicago.
Dallas is 6-1 ATS after allowing 350 total yards or more, 4-1 in road games, 5-2 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards, 7-3 after a double digit home loss, 8-20 against teams with losing records, 3-12-2 in week #14, 1-4 overall, 1-5 in December, 0-4 in Thursday games, and against NFC teams. The last 4 games in this series have gone over the total.
Chicago is 17-36-1 after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 7-15 after a straight up loss of more than 14 points, 5-11 after failing to cover, 10-22-1 overall, 3-7 on grass, 5-13 in week #14, 8-21 against NFC teams, 2-6 after allowing more than 30 points, 3-9 in December, 3-11-1 at home, 1-4 against teams with winning records, 3-12-1 after allowing more than 350 total yards, and 1-6-1 in Thursday games.
The Dallas defense is bad but it isn’t terrible like Chicago’s is. Even in frigid Chicago this should be a high scoring game. Romo and Cutler are the two most scrutinized quarterbacks in the league. If you wanted to add Eli Manning to that list I wouldn’t have a problem. The three play in major markets for some of the NFL’s most successful franchises. When they are good they are very good, but each is also capable of a train wreck game where they throw 4 interceptions. I think the Cowboys score enough to pull off the much needed road win.