The Cowboys are four-point favorites at home against the Bears. Given that the oddsmakers generally start with a base 3-point advantage for home teams in the N.F.L., the Vegas odds would suggest that the two teams are pretty evenly matched tonight. The over/under set at a fairly low 41.5, indicating that expectations are for a low-scoring affair. Of course, if the prediction is for a low-scoring, tight game, we'll probably see a blowout tonight.
Whether or not the experts have a better feel for what will happen tonight remains to be seen, but here's what those experts are predicting for tonight's game:
The Cowboys have done almost nothing on offense the past two weeks and now must face a wicked Chicago front. The Dallas line has to play better. The Bears are second in sacks per pass play in the league, while the Cowboys are 17th in allowing sacks per pass play. But something says Dallas will get that front blocked and Dez Bryant runs wild.
Peter King likes the Cowboys 20-13, and expects DeMarcus Ware to have a big night.
Not saying that one matchup is everything in any game. But DeMarcus Ware, the best outside linebacker in football, is matched against J'Marcus Webb, one of the worst left tackles in football. The Bears will help Webb a lot with extra blockers and chippers, but they aren't good enough on the line as a whole for that to not cripple them elsewhere on the line. I expect Matt Forte to play with that bad ankle of his, but no one will know how effective he'll be until Monday night.
NFL.com's Elliot Harrison also has the Cowboys winning in a low-scoring affair: Cowboys 22 - Bears 14
DeMarcus Ware gets a safety in Cowboys Stadium, in case the score catches you off guard. The Bears inability to move the ball consistently combined with poor protection will lead to some short fields for Tony Romo and the offense. Unfortunately, the Cowboys interior offensive line will get destroyed by Henry Melton and Stephen Paea, thus don't expect a barnburner in Dallas either. And yes, we mentioned Stephen Paea in the game predictions. Get excited
Profootballtalk's two writers both take the over for this game in which they both have the Cowboys winning.
Michael Smith's pick: Cowboys 34, Bears 20. As impressive as the Bears’ defense has been, I think they’ll struggle with the explosiveness of Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who should have a huge game in a Dallas win.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 26, Bears 17. If the Cowboys can keep Tony Romo in two or fewer pieces (factoring in the possibility of the partial loss of an ear), the Cowboys should win this one.
Sam Farmer from the LA Times predicts a close Cowboys win: Cowboys 24 - Bears 20.
Both teams have protection problems and QBs who tend to make critical mistakes. Without Matt Forte at full speed, Bears will struggle to keep Cowboys front honest.
The New York Times' Fifth Down Blog picks the Cowboys but doesn't predict a final score.
Most of the recognizable names on both teams are on the offensive side of the ball, but Chicago and Dallas have been surviving mostly on defense. It may be time for those well-known players on offense to start earning their paychecks.
If the Bears do not give offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb help against DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys’ dominant outside linebacker, Ware may look to recreate the defensive performance that Forest Whitaker, playing Charles Jefferson, put together in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."
The Miami Herald's Greg Cote has the Cowboys edging the Bears: Cowboys 24 - Bears 20.
Monday stage has itself a tasty duel, especially for those who like serious defense. Dallas D leads NFL with 250 average yards allowed. Chitown’s D is coming off a six-sack, two-INT game. Matt Forte’s expected return buoys Bears shot, but I like Boys for their first 3-1 start since ’08.
ESPN has the largest panel of self-proclaimed experts picking games, with 12 humans and two algorithms submitting their picks each week. This week, the panel comes down in favor of the Cowboys by an 11-3 margin, with only Mike Ditka, Merril Hoge and Chris Mortensen picking the Bears.
The seven USAToday panelists have the Cowboys as slight favorites: their panel is split 4-3 in favor of the Cowboys.
Yahoosport's three columnists like the Cowboys 2-1, and the Yahoo users like the Cowboys as well.
Pro Football Focus comes down 6-2 on the Cowboys' side.
Foxsport's writers can't agree on a favorite and are evenly split 2-2.
For the ''Inside The NFL' crew, Phil Sims and Cris Collinsworth both have the Cowboys winning tonight.
The Around The League guys at NFL.com are a unanimous 5-0 in favor of the Cowboys
For the ESPNDallas crew, Calvin Watkins is aiming to go 0-4 in his Cowboys picks by going with the Bears tonight. Overall, the panel sees the Cowboys taking this one 8-4.
Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram gives the home team the nudge and has the Cowboys winning 23-17.
All of this is not a representative sample of course. The fact that of the predictions polled, the Cowboys come out as 55-17 favorites means very little, but it does give an approximation of public opinion.
(Published) public opinion is much more favorable for the Cowboys than the Vegas odds suggest it should be. What's your take on the game: nail-biter or blowout, and who's your pick to have a big game tonight?