Here we go again.
It’s a strange league, the NFL is. With the Detroit Lions falling victim to the Eagles and a couple dozen helpings of packing snow, the Chicago Bears have a prime opportunity tomorrow night.
No, I’m not talking about probably allowing DeMarco Murray to go off to the tune of 200 yards and two touchdowns, likely shattering the soul of my fantasy team and all of our loyal fans.
Nope, that’s here nor there. The Bears have an opportunity to launch themselves into a tie for first place in the increasingly mediocre NFC North on Monday night against the Cowboys.
The opportunity is there. Unfortunately, the Bears haven’t given fans or critics much reason to believe they will capitalize on an improbable opportunity.
Fresh off one of the most frustrating losses in the Bears recent history, here are three key things to watch for in the Bears’ tilt with the Cowboys.
No. 1- Can Jeremiah Ratliff reek havoc against his old squad?
It’s almost sad that the Bears have been resigned to having hope about such minimal progress on the defensive side of the football. But the Bears sacked Vikings signal callers five times last Sunday away from their home turf, something almost unprecedented from this year’s version of the Bears.
At the very least, it meant the Bears were at least getting penetration at the point of attack, something that hasn’t been said too often this year. Granted, Adrian Peterson ran for over 200 yards. You or I probably could have run for 100. So while the old mantra in sports of being more motivated against a former ally is, well, old, the Bears can use any source of motivation to disrupt Tony Romo and a shaky Cowboys offensive line.
No. 2- Who will the Cowboys focus on defensively?
Perhaps I give defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin too much credit these days. This is, after all, the guy who chose to single cover Calvin Johnson for an entire game while watching his bunch get torched by Johnson to the tune of over 300 yards receiving.
So perhaps he doesn’t realize he’s going against the top receiving duo in the league in regards to receiving yardage in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. Or maybe he’s been asleep all week. Whatever.
In all seriousness, teams that have chosen to give Marshall more attention than Jeffery are getting burned by Jeffery, and vice versa. One of them is going to get theirs, it’s just a question of who.
No 3- Will the Cowboys get pass happy?
In short, boy let’s hope so. The Bears may be vulnerable through the air, but they’re helpless on the ground. However, the Cowboys have shown a tendency to get pass happy with Tony Romo and company, which would play right into Chicago’s hands.
Perhaps literally. At the very least, perhaps the Bears can turn on some of the pressure they did last week and force a few errant mishaps from Romo. As bad as the Bears defense has been, they still have the ability to create turnovers.
After all, it’s a prime time game in the cold and the Cowboys need to win to stay in the hunt for their division crown.
A Tony Romo mishap or two shouldn’t be feared. At this point, it should be an expectation.
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