This one has the potential to be the best Thursday night game of the year. Both teams have explosive offenses and having played on Thanksgiving, they have a full week to get ready for the matchup. While the Bears are pretty much done in a tough NFC, the Cowboys are fighting for their playoff lives. After losing to the Eagles at home, the Cowboys now sit 8-4. With a win, the Cowboys not only stay in the wild card hunt, but are guaranteed to not finish 8-8 for yet another season.
The heart beat of the Cowboys offense this season has been the play of DeMarco Murray. Unlike years past, the team is relying on Murray and the highly touted offensive line to open up the passing game. After struggling against the run against a banged up Lions offensive line, Murray could be in for a productive night. Due to this, Tony Romo doesn’t have the yards he usually does, but has been very efficient for the most part. The good news for Romo is that the Bears secondary is all kinds of banged up. Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller has a very bright future, but is hampered by a knee injury. Like Calvin Johnson did on Thanksgiving, Dez Bryant should be able to have his way with him. Jason Witten should also have some room to operate within the seams.
Don’t be surprised if Romo also looks to get Terrance Williams more involved in this one. The talented second year receiver hasn’t been much of a factor the past four games, but he will have a favorable matchup.
The Bears have been a disappointing team up to this point, but contrary to popular belief, it isn’t all Jay Cutler’s fault. Cutler is actually on pace to have a career year in categories such as completion percentage, touchdown passes and passer rating. With that, Cutler probably is what he is at this point. When he’s on, he’s one of the most entertaining quarterbacks to watch. If he’s off, the potential to throw a team out of a game is there. The matchup makes me think, we could see “good Jay” tonight.
Regardless of how Cutler looks, the Cowboys are going to see a whole lot of Matt Forte tonight. It’s hard to believe in the fantasy football era, but Forte is incredibly underrated for his ability as a three down back. After seeing what LeSean McCoy and company did to the Cowboys defense, he has to be very excited for tonight.
The Cowboys pass defense is better than it figured to be this year, but it will be a tough task stopping the Bears weapons. Alshon Jeffery is dealing with a hamstring injury, but figures to play tonight. It appears that Jeffery has surpassed Brandon Marshall as the Bears number one option. Marshall has still been productive, but a lingering ankle injury could be a cause for the production dip. Regardless, he should still see eight to ten throws his way tonight. On top of those two, the Cowboys also have to worry about a player they drafted in Martellus Bennett. Opposing tight ends haven’t done much against the Cowboys of late, but with Cutler willing to force throws Bennett will still see his targets.
Overall, this game is a very tough one to predict. The Cowboys offense should be too much to handle, but Romo’s struggles this time of year are well documented. When it comes to the Bears, you don’t know which Cutler will show up. I’m going to go with the Cowboys here, but either way my chances of getting burned by who I pass on is high. My prediction is Cowboys 27 Bears (+4.5) 21