Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) breaks from the team huddle prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Overview: The Dallas Cowboys are taking a trip to Soldier Field this Thursday to take on a Chicago Bears team that just can’t seem to find its rhythm. Standing at 8-4, The Dallas Cowboys still have strong hopes of making the playoffs this year despite an embarrassing 33-10 Thanksgiving loss to their division rival Philadelphia Eagles. The Bears are coming off a demoralizing loss of their own, and at 5-7 will need a small miracle to play in the postseason. These teams seem to be near polar opposites of each other this season. After a disappointing year last season and an offseason that saw very few fixes to their perceived problems, the Dallas Cowboys have far exceeded expectations. The Bears on the other hand have squandered what was once a very promising season, and now nearly everyone is talking about potential firings and rebuilding.
Injuries: There is very little to report on this front, as the Dallas Cowboys seem to be getting healthy just in time for their matchup with the Bears. The biggest news may come from the players who have recently returned to action. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain is still mentioned on the injury report, but has been a full participant so far and I’d be surprised if he didn’t play. McClain is a former first round pick of the Oakland Raiders and has really made full use of his second chance with the Dallas Cowboys, having filled in admirably for the injured Sean Lee. Rookie second round pick Demarcus Lawrence has gotten in some limited work this week and looks likely to play. Lawrence was supposed to be the answer to the loss of Demarcus Ware, but spent the early portion of the season on I.R. designated to return. Another week into his recovery, he may be able to give the Dallas Cowboys pass rush a lift. Starting left tackle Tyron Smith is listed on the injury report with an illness, but has been a full participant so far.
Key Matchups: Much like the Detroit Lions last week, the Dallas Cowboys boast an elite wide receiver in Dez Bryant that I fear the Bears won’t have an answer for. The Bears had Kyle Fuller covering Calvin Johnson for most of the game last week, and the rookie was not up to the task. While I wouldn’t put Dez Bryant on quite the same level as Megatron, he is similar in height/speed comparison and I expect a similar result. The Bears can’t really mix things up too much, since the only other viable option is the 5’8″ Tim Jennings. The Bears defensive line is going to need to be nearly unstoppable this week, both to stop Demarco Murray in the ground game and to make Tony Romo throw the ball before he wants to, for the Bears to have a chance in this one. The Philadelphia Eagles really got after the Dallas Cowboys defense with the hurry up offense with great success on Thanksgiving. If the Bears offense had been able to sustain more drives this season, I’d say that was a key to this game, but I don’t see that game plan working out this week.
The Way I See It: Not only do I think the Bears will lose to the Dallas Cowboys this week, but I’m halfway rooting against them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bears but their chances of making the playoffs this year are practically non-existent. There is something to be said about repairing their confidence for next year, but I think a top 10 draft choice would be more important than that. I also just don’t think that the Bears defense can keep the Dallas Cowboys out of the end zone, and I expect the Bears offense to continue to sputter most of the time. This is just not the Bears’ year and my sights as a fan are already looking to the next.