Week 14 of the NFL schedule gets underway with a game between two teams in desperate need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive as the Dallas Cowboys face the Chicago Bears. Kickoff is set for 8:20 EST on Thursday, December 5 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Fans can find the game on either Fox or the NFL Network.
Early betting lines list the Cowboys as 3-point favorites on the road with an over/under of 42.5 points. Click here to check out all of the Week 14 NFL betting odds.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is no stranger to the hot seat, but his seat may be the hottest it’s ever been right now. Dallas has lost three of their last four games, including a 26-15 home loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving. Owner Jerry Jones has expressed his frustration after losses the last two weeks, even though he says that he won’t make a coaching change in the middle of the season. Nevertheless, Garrett needs to get the Cowboys to the playoffs and perhaps win a game or two after that to save his job.
The good news for Dallas is that the Eagles continue to struggle as well, losing three in a row. That puts the 6-6 Cowboys a game up on Philadelphia in the NFC East standings. The two teams will meet in Week 16 in a game that could decide the division winner. However, the Cowboys have a more challenging schedule leading up to that game, starting with this week’s trip to Chicago.
Speaking of the Bears, they have kept their slim playoff hopes alive with back-to-back wins and three wins in their last four games. To be fair, two of those wins have come against the ailing Lions and the other came against the 2-10 Giants. Nevertheless, Chicago is 6-6 and still alive in the playoff hunt.
That being said, the Bears almost certainly have to win out and get a little help if they want to get back to the playoffs for the second straight season. They still have to play the Packers and Vikings on the road late in the year while also having a home date with the Chiefs. That’s by no means an easy schedule. But until they start thinking about beating their NFC North rivals, the Bears need to hold serve at home against the Cowboys.
I’ll admit that it’s not easy leaning toward the Cowboys these days, especially as a road favorite. But it seems like every time you want to write off Garrett and the Cowboys, they surprise you with a great performance. At the same time, I’m not exactly trusting the Bears to keep it going against a team that’s actually good. Chicago has found a way to barely beat bad teams in recent weeks, but I like the Cowboys to get the better of them. I’ll eat the points and look for Dallas to win and cover.
Despite a couple of wins recently, I’m still not particularly high on Mitch Trubisky and the Chicago offense. Trubisky has thrown four touchdown passes but three interceptions over the past two weeks. This week, he’ll be dealing with a strong Dallas pass rush that was able to collect four sacks last week in a losing effort. On the season, the Bears have given up 33 sacks over 12 games, so they could be vulnerable against Robert Quinn, DeMarcus Lawrence, and company.
Meanwhile, the Bears still aren’t lighting it up on the ground. David Montgomery has been held to 40 yards or less in three of his last five games. Without more from the running game, the Bears are asking way too much of Trubisky. While the Cowboys aren’t elite at stopping the run, they should be able to handle Chicago’s ground attack. Stopping the run hasn’t been a huge issue for Dallas, even in their recent losses. Both the Bills and Patriots have averaged less than four yards per carry the last two weeks. The Cowboys will surely take that against the Chicago offense.
Of course, this game is likely to come down to whether Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense can get it going. All of the necessary pieces are in place and the numbers still say that Dallas has the best passing attack in the NFL and a top-10 offense. But scoring a total of 24 points over the last two weeks says otherwise.
The Chicago defense has now gone four straight games giving up 20 points or less against their opponents. They won’t be able to break down, especially at home. However, they’ve struggled against some of the more established quarterbacks they’ve faced this year. Remember, Chicago’s three recent wins have come against Jeff Driskel, Daniel Jones, and David Blough. Prescott, of course, is far better and should have enough help around him to do a little damage against the Bears.
In the end, I expect this to be an ugly game that could certainly go either way. However, I don’t trust Trubisky and the Chicago offense to score many points. I feel more comfortable putting my faith in Prescott and the Dallas offense, who surely have more offensive upside. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’ll put a little trust in the Cowboys to have a bounce-back game and beat the Bears by a comfortable margin.