Thursday Night Football’s clash between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears, on paper, should be one-sided. The visitors have the better quarterback, running back and receiver core.
Add in a better OL, and a defence which can challenge Khalil Mack and the Monsters of the Midway and the NFC East side should dominate.
Yet, what we saw against the Buffalo Bills was a disjointed performance. Turnovers were costly, bad passes ended drives, it wasn’t pretty and they lost 26-15.
Jason Garrett is probably lucky to still have his job. Jerry Jones has revealed he expects the coach to still have an NFL job in 2020.
Although he hasn’t specifically said whether or not that job will be in Dallas!
The Cowboys still hold pole position in the race for the NFC East title, and despite the Philadelphia Eagles own struggles, nothing but a win will do on Thursday.
With both teams holding a 6-6 record, it’s incredible to see the difference between the two offences. Dallas are first in passing yards, Chicago are 28th, Dallas are 8th in rushing, Chicago are 28th, and the Cowboys average 25.8 points per game, with Matt Nagy’s team way down on 17.7, the 27th best in the NFL.
Both teams are evenly impressive on defence with neither side conceding more than 20 points per game on average.
Which suggests a sluggish opener to Week 14 and a close game where you have back the talent on the Cowboys to cover the spread.
Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel or Anthony Miller feel like better suggestions to catch a touchdown on Thursday, but defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has his unit well drilled. They have only let the opposition rack up 215.6 pass yards per game this season.
Over the last five games played, Miller has been targeted 22 times, just three behind Robinson. He hasn’t caught a touchdown in that spell, but the opportunities will come.
However, Tarik Cohen, mostly used as a third-down pass-catching back, has 22 catches and two touchdowns. The scenario is simple, Dallas will restrict the rush game and their secondary looks down the receivers, leaving Mitchel Trubisky to dump the ball down to his running back.
Cohen is one of the quickest and most elusive backs in the game and still has value in a James White type role.
Since Week 7, the Bears have only scored more than 20 points three times. Two of them were against the Detroit Lions, so you may as well strike them from the record. Their average tells the tale too, at just 17.7, one of the worst offences in the NFL.
To make things worse, the Cowboys’ is the best defence they’ve faced in six weeks. The Vikings hit them for 28, and last week the Bills went for 26. Lessons will have been learned since Josh Allen handed them a Thanksgiving defeat and despite his improvements, Trubisky is not in the same bracket as the 2018 Draft Pick.
The Cowboys defensive front and linebackers will bring the pressure and the man drafted before Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, will need to show more awareness.
He has been sacked 26 times this season, more than Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota. The QB has been sacked on 6.7% of all his pass attempts, which is higher than Carson Wentz and Gardner Minshew.
Over the past five games, the Bears have only nine sacks, compared to the Cowboys 15 – with 39 QB hits. What made the NFC North team a fearful prospect has become a strength of their opposition. Don’t expect this to go well.