The NFL is full of parity, the talent level is so high and teams rarely dominate each other. That may be true in some case but the Dallas Cowboys need to bloody the lowly Bears. This is a game where the talent level on both sides of the ball is uneven. The Bears are coming in desperate to win a game with a roster that is widely considered a M*A*S*H unit. This is one of those games the Cowboys usually fall for and play close. They need to avoid that on Sunday night.
Say what you want about a rookie quarterback in Dallas but there was one in Philadelphia that stole some manhood from these Bears on Monday. There’s a rookie quarterback in New England that contributed in a beat down of the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football. It can be done and Dak Prescott is no slouch. The Cowboys need a game like this and we sure hope they are up for it.
Dallas has been accused of playing down to their competition quite a few times over the years, which is why they are right around .500 as a franchise over the past 20 years since they have been relevant in the championship talks. Last week, we saw a different Jason Garrett than we’ve seen since oh about 2007. He attempted an onside kick and went for it on fourth down; did he have some conversation with the great Bill Belichick? Whatever Garrett did last week seemingly worked as the Cowboys improved to 1-1 on the year. Now, they need to find a way to not let down in this game, something that is easier said than done with this bunch.
In sports, there is the term ‘trap game’ where many teams fall victim. I don’t know if this qualifies among the hallowed halls of trap games past but nonetheless, it is a trap for the Dallas Cowboys. Brian Hoyer will be the quarterback, the Bears defense is riddled with injuries, Alshon Jeffery is dealing with some knee issues; all of this smells like a trap. In Monday’s matchup with the Eagles, the Bears didn’t just get beat, they got beat up and now they face what many believe could be the best running game before the season is over.
Sure, the Cowboys have gotten off to a decent but not good enough start. Ezekiel Elliott does have more rushing yards and touchdowns in two appearances than Emmitt Smith had in his first four. Dak has thrown 75 passes without throwing an interception. Yeah, well, he’s also got 75 passes without a touchdown too.
The Chicago Bears are the fourth-rated pass defense. Okay, well as we know with the Dallas Cowboys of 2015, that’s because the Bears are the 21st-rated run defense and getting worse. Teams don’t have to throw much on you when you’re giving up 114+ on the ground each week. And for the lack of yardage the Bears give up, they sure give up a lot of points (26 per game) ranking 24th in the league. What that tells you is that the Bears give short fields to offenses because they turn the ball over. The Cowboys must get their biggest investment (offensive line) off to a good start and perhaps jump-start their running game with Ezekiel Elliott. If he’s looking for his first 100-yard performance, Sunday night is a great place to get it.
The Bears offensively are an absolute mess as they rank in the bottom of the league in every statistical category. They are 29th in points per game (14), 31st in total yards per game (271), 29th in passing yards (202.5), 26th in rushing yards (68.5). Their offensive line hasn’t protected very well giving up eight sacks in two games. Their starting quarterback is injured and they will look to an NFL journeyman. They are allowing opposing offenses to convert almost 45% of their third downs. The Cowboys come in converting 55.7% on the money down. The Bears are -3 in turnover ratio whereas the Cowboys are +1.
This is a perfect storm for the Cowboys to come away with a big victory. That still doesn’t change some trepidation in the tone of this column. The Cowboys are not world-beaters on either side of their team but it’s only been two games. It takes a second for a rookie running back to thrive, it takes a second for an offensive line to gel for the season, and it takes a second for a rookie quarterback to get comfortable running the offense. With all that taken into consideration, we need to see an old-fashioned rout at home for the Cowboys (a place where they have lost eight straight).
This is one of those games that can tell a lot about your team moving forward. If this is a playoff contender that can keep afloat without perhaps their best player, they have to take a page out of New England’s book and dominate the Bears. It could be one of those games where everybody eats to steal a phrase from Jack Crawford. They need to feed their beasts in this game and get a big win, on primetime television, in front of the home crowd. Something tells me that it won’t take much for a team like this to start humming but it takes one of those confidence-builders and that’s what this game is. Don’t sleep on anyone but don’t let up either. My colleague Tom Ryle told you that this team needs a convincing win, what they need to do is not walk into a bear trap on the field.