In Week 4, the Chicago Bears (2-1) and Dallas Cowboys (2-1) will reignite a rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Cowboys lead the series, winning 13 of 22 meetings. Two of the most scrutinized quarterbacks in the league, Jay Cutler and Tony Romo, will square off in Dallas on Monday night.
The Cowboys offense has struggled this season, scoring only 15.7 points per game, but the defense has only given up 18.0 points per game. Led by DeMarcus Ware, who has 4 sacks on the season and 103.5 for his career (23rd all time), the Cowboys defense will be ready to feast on J’Marcus Webb and the Bears sub-par offensive line. J’Marcus vs. DeMarcus will be a key matchup to watch. However, a smart game plan by Mike Tice could keep the Cowboys top-ranked defense at bay.
As good as the Cowboys defense has been, the Bears defense has looked even better. They lead the league in sacks with 14 and are second in takeaways with 9. You can bet the Bears defensive line, which boasts 7 players with at least half of a sack, will be able to pressure Romo (3 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles this season) into making a few costly turnovers. Tim Jennings is quickly becoming an elite defensive back with 5 interceptions (10 pass deflections) in his last 4 games, dating back to Week 17 last year. The Bears versus the Cowboys in primetime looks to be another defensive battle…which means we will probably see an offensive explosion.
But as Cutler said to ESPN’s Waddle and Silvy, “These are guesses. You’re guessing…” So, let’s get to some hardcore facts and figures for Week 4.
7: Number of sacks by Julius Peppers in 6 career regular season games against the Cowboys.
194: Brandon Marshall’s receiving yards against the Cowboys in 2 career games.
136.7: Cutler’s quarterback rating the last time he faced the Cowboys (2010), leading the Bears to a 27-20 victory in Dallas.
841: Total yards given up by the Bears defense in their last two games against the Cowboys.
18: Jersey number of the Cowboys backup quarterback, ex-Bear Kyle Orton.
1: Number of passes Orton has thrown against the Bears in his career. Also, the number of fingers Orton injured against the Bears last year.
97.0: Cutler’s career quarterback rating when playing indoors.
104.7: Romo’s career quarterback rating when playing indoors.
7-2: Lovie Smith’s record on Monday Night Football with the Bears, averaging 26.4 points per game.
31: Penalties committed by the Cowboys this season, second most in the league.
18: Longest running play by a running back against the Bears this season.
24.3: Opponents third down conversion percentage against the Bears this season, second best in the league.
16-1: Bears record when they lead after the first quarter since 2010.
13: Sacks by the Bears defensive line this season, more than any other entire defense in the NFL after Week 3.
4.9: Opposing quarterback’s passer rating this season when throwing to receivers that Tim Jennings is covering.
9: Consecutive field goals of 50 yards or longer made by Gould dating back to 2010.
99: Passing yards needed by Cutler to reach 10,000 in a Bears uniform, ranking him fifth all-time among Bears quarterbacks.
11-3: Bears record since 2010 when they lose the coin toss.
You all should know by now, I’m not a Lovie-backer, and I’m going to throw the last stat in my bucket of things that irk me about Lovie. When they win the coin toss he is 10-11. It’s not the most convincing argument for him being a bad decision maker, but I thought it was an interesting nugget. If he can lead the Bears to a Super Bowl victory, all will be forgiven. But until that day comes, I’ll always be skeptical. A victory in Dallas on Monday would be a big step in the right direction for the Bears and finishing up the first quarter of the season at 3-1 will show a lot of people that they are among the NFC elite.