The 7-5 Dallas Cowboys are set to visit Soldier Field this week to take on our beloved 6-6 Chicago Bears in a matchup between two teams with some pretty crazy parallels. Both teams are running the same basic Tampa-2 defensive scheme, and both defenses are struggling mightily. This game also features two over 30 quarterbacks who have all the talent in the world but just can’t seem to get their teams to make that elusive deep playoff run. Both teams also have a slew of injuries on the defensive side of the ball and plenty of talent to surround their quarterbacks with on the offensive side of the ball. The Cowboys own the all time record with the Bears at a mark of 13-10, but lost to the beloved 34-18 when the two teams met last season. Let’s move on to some phase by phase analysis:
Offense: Whether the Bears start Jay Cutler (who is questionable with an injury this week) or Josh McCown, I don’t think they will have much trouble moving the ball against the Cowboys. Dallas’ defense was struggling before they lost pro bowler Sean Lee and a whole mess of defensive linemen, but now they’re just plain bad. I think that Cutler returning would give the Bears a slight boost because the Cowboys are almost certainly preparing to face McCown, but the Bears have too many weapons on this side of the ball for the Cowboys to stop them.
Defense: The Bears’ rush defense continues to be mind- bogglingly atrocious this season. I had hoped that inserting Craig Steltz might fix that to some degree, since he’s been solid in run defense in the past, but it did not work out that way. Jeremiah Ratliff has something to prove going against the team that released him earlier this season, but he’s only one man and this game takes a whole team. On a brighter note, the pass rush looked better last week than I’ve seen it look all year. I don’t know what Mel Tucker did to light a fire under them, but I hope it continues this week.
Special Teams: Speaking of having something to prove, Joe DeCamillis was let go by the Cowboys during the offseason as well. This game is a perfect opportunity to show them what they missed out on; possibly with some trickery. The Bears haven’t run a trick play on special teams all season and I think it’s about time for Joe D. to show us something. Also, if Devin Hester doesn’t break the all-time return TD record soon, my head might explode. He’s so close!
And that’s the way it is. Your guess is as good as mine on who’ll be the winner in this one, or the rest of the season for that matter. Any team with this bad of a defense is going to be really hard to predict, even if the offense is really good (see: 2012 Saints). What do you guys think? Is there a way the Bears could fix the defense enough to make a playoff push? Let me hear it in the comment section.