Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys: Game Preview

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IOctober 1, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass against the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field on September 23, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Rams 23-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 2-1 Chicago Bears, fresh off of a 23-6 win over the St. Louis Rams, will take on the 2-1 Dallas Cowboys, who themselves are coming off of a 16-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bears defense gave Chicago a great effort this Sunday, helping them win the game by not allowing the Rams to score a touchdown, much less move the ball down the field effectively at any point.  It appears that the Bears offense is still stuck in neutral after not putting up a strong performance against the Rams.  The offense will have to do better against the Cowboys if they want to win this game.

The following is a look at both sides of the ball for the Bears and how they have to fare in order to come out with win a over the Cowboys this coming Monday night.


When the Bears Have the Ball

Pass protection.  That’s going to be the biggest key to a Bears win this Monday night.  Chicago didn’t do a bad job of protecting quarterback Jay Cutler against the Rams, but they need to improve their overall protection in order to handle what will be a much stiffer pass rush from the Cowboys. 

Remember that Dallas has DeMarcus Ware and Ware, like Clay Matthews, can be a one-man wrecking crew.  If the Bears can’t get him blocked it could be a long day for Cutler.  Using running backs to block could be one thing the Bears do to help stave off the Cowboys pass rush.

Running the football is a must and the Bears started off running the football well against the Rams.  A heavy dose of the running game (as long as it works) would help keep pressure off Cutler and open up the Bears passing game.

It’s a possibility that Matt Forte could be back in the lineup for the Bears this Monday night and that opens up things in both the running and the passing game.  If he’s back, then the Bears will have that one-two punch back in their backfield (to go along with Michael Bush) that they need and that could help them move the ball better against this stout Cowboys defense.

When the Bears do have to pass the ball, not only is protection a big key, but the Bears need to get their wide receivers open in order for them to make plays down the field.  Teams have been able to find ways to cover Brandon Marshall, effectively taking him out of the game, but that should leave someone else open. 

When this happened in the Rams game, Cutler started to find rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery a little bit more in the passing game and it started to work.  Cutler has to go to the open receivers and quit throwing to a covered Marshall in order to open up the passing game and make it a success.

So a good mix of running and passing should help the Bears offense overcome the Cowboys defense as long as everything is on target and Cutler doesn’t try to force things.  If he does, he will make mistakes and the Bears will lose this game.


When the Cowboys Have the Ball

Chicago got a great defensive effort against the Rams this past Sunday and will have to do it again against the Cowboys if they want to win this game.  It all begins up front and the Bears will have to get some pass pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo in order to make him ineffective throwing the ball. 

The Bears have been able to get good pass pressure against teams this season and that should continue against what is known as a patchwork offensive line for the Cowboys. 

Look for the Bears to generate a lot of pressure against Romo and his offensive line, forcing him to make mistakes that the Bears can take advantage of on defense.  They should be able to get to Romo and give him some problems.

When it comes to running the football, the Cowboys are currently ranked 13th in the league in rushing, but the Bears defense is well adept at stopping the run.  They haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season and appear to have the personnel that it takes to play well against the run. 

Look for the Bears to shut down the Cowboys rushing attack in this game, forcing Romo to take to the air to try to allow the Cowboys to move the football.

The Bears defense is an opportunistic defense and takes advantage of mistakes when the other team makes them.  Right now, cornerback Tim Jennings is having a stellar season and is usually in the right place at the right time to make a play on the ball. 

The secondary has been having a nice season thanks to the pass rush and if the Bears can continue to get pass pressure on Romo, then the secondary should have a good game.


Special Teams

The Bears have been using Devin Hester on punt returns, and while he has a pretty decent average per return, he hasn’t broken a long return just yet.  He’s bound to do it and he could do it soon. 

The Bears coverage teams did a good job against the Rams after they gave up a touchdown on a fake field goal against the Packers the week before.  The special teams units have to keep an eye out for fakes and make sure that they don’t get caught out of position when these plays happen.


The Final Word

The Bears offense will be the key to a win in this game.  Chicago has to score points and, in order to score points, the offense has to be working.  The Bears will be facing the No. 1 defense in the NFL when they go up against the Cowboys, but this defense is beatable, and with good consistent play from the offense, they can win this game.

Cutler has to limit his mistakes and throw the ball to the open receiver.  With Marshall sure to be double covered in this game, Cutler needs to throw to the open receiver and move the ball downfield.  This means that Jeffery and Earl Bennett should see their fare share of catches.  Of course, it all depends on whether or not the line can block and keep Cutler upright.

The defense should have a good game against the Cowboys as long as they can get pressure on the passer and force him to make mistakes.  The Bears should be able to shut down the Cowboys rushing attack, forcing Dallas into known passing situations that will allow the Bears front four to tee off and get pressure on the quarterback.  This has to happen in order for the Bears to win this game.


Prediction: Chicago 23, Dallas 17