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Cold weather and tough defense: What the Cowboys are up against when they face the Bears

This Bears team presents a problem for the Cowboys that they haven’t yet been able to overcome.

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys will head off to Chicago to face the Bears in hopes of ending a two-game losing streak. Both teams are sitting with a 6-6 record; however, the road to the playoffs is much easier for one of these teams. The Cowboys can still breathe easy thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles showing no interest in participating in post-season play. The Bears, on the other hand, are a desperate team whose only chance to make the playoffs comes from not only going on a winning streak, but also seeing at least one of their division foes, Green Bay or Minnesota, start dropping a lot of games. There’s nothing like going on the road to face a team hanging on to it’s last thread to spice up a Thursday night game.

But the Bears sense of urgency is the least of the Cowboys worries. There are some other things about this game that could be a potential problem for this Dallas team.

Another cold and wet game?

The weather at Gillette Stadium played a role in the struggles the Cowboys offense had against the New England Patriots. With rain falling, slippery footballs were everywhere and the effectiveness of the Cowboys offense was neutralized. Could they be facing a similar situation in a December game at Soldier Field?

The conditions in Chicago shouldn’t be quite so severe. While temperatures may drop into the low thirties, there is only a 10% chance of rain. The wind should be at about 8-10 mph, so hopefully, this shouldn’t be a situation where the outside elements completely changes the dynamic of the game like it did in New England.

Another top defense

While the weather may be a little more manageable, the Cowboys face another problem that is even more of concern - the Bears defense. Last season, Chicago had the best defense in the league. They’ve regressed some this year, but they still boast impressive numbers. They are ranked top seven in yards allowed and top four in points scored. If this season is any indication, that could mean bad news for this Cowboys team.

This season, Dallas has played five teams whose defense is ranked in the Top 10 in either yards or points allowed (Patriots, Bills, Saints, Vikings, and Jets). The Cowboys are 0-5 against those teams. The Bears may not pose much of a threat on the offensive side of the ball, but as we’ve seen this season, that hasn’t always mattered. In two of those games against top defenses, the Cowboys weren’t able to score more than 10 points.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to kicking

The Bears finished 12-4 last year and took down the NFC North crown, but unfortunately they weren’t able to get out of the wild card round of the playoffs. They had a chance to advance when Cody Parkey lined up to kick a game-winning 43-yard field goal, when this happened:

Parkey struggled down the stretch last season, and as a result - he’s not on the team anymore. His replacement, Eddy Pineiro, hasn’t been any better as he’s only made 75% of his field goal attempts versus Parkey’s 77% last season. Needless to say, the Bears’ kicking game remains a big wild card.

But as much of a mystery it is for the Bears, it’s even more crazy for the Cowboys as Brett Maher finds himself in a little bit of a rut. Even though he holds all the top spots for longest kicks in franchise history, Maher has still managed to miss some type of kick in over half of his games with the team. That’s not good.

In a game where the elements will not be ideal, this should be a concern for Cowboys fans. On Sunday, the team worked out three different kickers as they look for better options, but no change was made. It remains all on Maher’s leg.

He who takes the ball away, wins

Last season, the Bears defense was the best in the league at taking the ball away as they created 36 takeaways on the year. This season, they are middle of the pack as they rank 14th in this department. Even still, that is miles better than what the Cowboys defense is doing this season. The Cowboys are ranked 26th in the league in creating turnovers, including being dead last in forcing interceptions.

The defense has failed to create a turnover in four straight games. This is the longest stretch without creating a takeaway since the 2016 when coincidentally their drought also occurred in the month of November. But instead of losing three of those four games, the Cowboys went 4-0 thanks to an offense that was red hot and averaged 32 points a game in that span. I guess that’s one way to circumvent the problem.

That might be a tall task for this offense to pull off on Thursday against this tough Bears defense, so it sure would be nice if they could force third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky into having a mistake-prone game. You know he wants to.

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