The Dallas Cowboys are trying to get it together. Their potential spot in the playoffs may depend on it.
On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys lost for the sixth time in nine games, falling to the Buffalo Bills at home 26-15. After starting the season with three straight wins, Dallas is now 6-6, the worst record of any division leader in the NFL.
The Cowboys remain in first in the NFC East because of the rest of the division's struggles. However, they have only a one-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles, so they need to have a strong final month of the season to hold them off.
Dallas aims to get back on track Thursday night, when it goes on the road to play the Chicago Bears.
Before taking a deeper look at that matchup, here's the full Week 14 slate, along with odds and predictions.
Week 14 Odds, Picks
Dallas (-3) at Chicago; Over/Under 43.5 points
Baltimore (-5.5) at Buffalo; O/U 43.5
Carolina at Atlanta (-3); O/U 47.5
Cincinnati at Cleveland (-8); O/U 41
Denver at Houston (-9); O/U 41.5
Indianapolis at Tampa Bay (-3); O/U 46
Miami at N.Y. Jets (-5.5); O/U 45
San Francisco at New Orleans (-2.5); O/U 44.5
Washington at Green Bay (-13); O/U 42
Minnesota (-13) at Detroit; O/U 43
L.A. Chargers (-3) at Jacksonville; O/U 42.5
Kansas City at New England (-3); O/U 48.5
Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Arizona; O/U 43
Tennessee (-2.5) at Oakland; O/U 47
Seattle at L.A. Rams (even); O/U 47
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia (-9.5); O/U 46
Picks made against the spread. Odds courtesy of Caesars.
The Cowboys and Bears have had similar seasons. And despite some struggles along the way, they both remain in the playoff picture in the NFC.
Most of Dallas' struggles have been recent. It has dropped three of its last four games, which includes its last two against the Patriots and Bills. In fact, it hasn't fared well against top teams as a whole, as it's 0-5 against teams that currently have winning records and 6-1 against teams that are .500 or worse.
According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott said:
"We've talked a bunch and got ourselves right to where we are. In a moment like this, I say hell with the talking and I'm going to do more. I'm going to work harder and if you're a young guy looking for somebody to figure it out, how to do it, yeah, look at me and some of these other guys because that's exactly what we're doing—putting our head down focusing and doubling down on ourselves."
On the other side, Chicago may have put its struggles behind it. After a four-game losing streak earlier this season, the Bears have won three of their last four, which includes back-to-back victories over the Giants and Lions the past two weeks.
It could be a stretch that ends up being key if Chicago can secure an NFC wild-card berth.
"I thought it revealed a lot of who we were as a team and who we are as people. No one not one time started pointing fingers," Bears head coach Matt Nagy said, per AP. "That's a credit to our players for battling through that. It makes you proud to be their coach."
However, if the Bears are going to make the playoffs, they will have to beat some good teams to get there. Their final four games are all against teams that would currently be in the postseason—the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings.
With both teams needing a win, this should be a competitive Thursday night game. However, the Cowboys may be just a bit more desperate as they had high expectations for this season and they're trying to keep their recent slide from extending.
Chicago has a strong run defense, so Dallas may have to go to the air to pull out the victory. But expect the Cowboys to do that successfully, as Prescott will lead them to a close win and help maintain their spot atop the NFC East.