Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys: Preview & Prediction

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 1, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

At the end of Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys will either be tied in first place in the NFC East or tied in last place in the NFC East as the quarter point of the season is reached. Dallas enters its bye following Monday's prime-time matchup with the Bears, which only increases the pressure to finish the first month of the season strong.

Here's a final look at what we're expecting in what should be a tightly contested battle between two quality teams...


What Dallas must do to win, offensive edition

Get DeMarco Murray going as both a runner and receiver. It's the only way the Cowboys can avoid the damage the struggling offensive line has been causing. Murray has to step up.


What Dallas must do to win, defensive edition

Attack Jay Cutler. Overloads, blitzes, etc. Overwhelm left tackle J'Marcus Webb and emulate what the Green Bay Packers did in Week 2.


How Dallas can lose

By becoming one-dimensional on offense (like in the Tampa Bay game) and by lacking aggressiveness on defense (like in the Seattle game).


Five most important non-quarterbacks

DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher, DeMarco Murray, Tyron Smith

The first three names simply indicate how crucial the pass rush will be against Cutler, who can't be given time to work, regardless of how good the Dallas secondary has looked. Murray will be the wild card on offense, while Smith will likely be responsible for limiting Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.


Injury analysis, Cowboys edition

Center Phil Costa and nose tackle Jay Ratliff continue to sit, but neither absence has hurt the Cowboys much thus far. Of more concern is the status of Spencer, who is likely to be a game-time decision with a pectoral injury after failing to practice all week. That could put quite a lot of pressure on backup Victor Butler.


Injury analysis, Bears edition

All eyes on Matt Forte, who missed Week 3 with an ankle sprain and will be a game-time decision in Dallas. He traveled with the team to Texas, which is a good sign, but even if he's not 100 percent it'll be a break for the Cowboys. Going from Forte to backup Michael Bush is a steep drop-off. Wide receiver Earl Bennett is also questionable for the Bears.


B/R NFC East Blog prediction

I have a bad feeling about this game, both from a Cowboys' perspective and a quality perspective. I'm expecting lots of sacks and quite a few turnovers, and I'm leaning Chicago's direction. Ultimately, I don't trust that line to hold right now. It'll be close though.

Bears 23, Cowboys 20