The Chicago Bears (6-6) take on the Dallas Cowboys (7-5) under the lights of Soldier Field on Monday Night Football in a game that looms large for the Bears’ playoff hopes.
What the Chicago Bears need to do to win
Although the defense of the Bears has been abysmal to watch, they may be able to seek some reprieve against Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo. He has been sacked 28 times this season, and nine times in his last three games. Defensive end Julius Peppers has reappeared lately after what has been an almost eerily quiet season, registering 2.5 sacks last week against the Minnesota Vikings. The defense as a whole has registered 21 sacks on the year, so things could very well get messy for Romo.
A big key for the Bears’ success Monday is holding onto the lead once they have it and not relinquish it. They need to do this now more than ever, especially if they want to make the playoffs and compete against the top tier teams of the NFL. Injuries have decimated the defense, sure, but that is not an excuse for their performance as of late. Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene have done a subpar job at their respective linebacker positions, allowing huge holes to open and letting opposing running backs take advantage. The defensive line has not helped matters either, as the unit has allowed a league-worst 153.6 yards on the ground and 232.4 yards in the air, good for 14th.
They will have their hands full with Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray, who has rushed for 697 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. He recently had a field day against the Oakland Raiders, rushing for three touchdowns, albeit on just 63 yards. He has been great at finding big holes and exploiting defenses, so the Bears’ defensive unit has to know their assignments and stick with them.
I feel like a broken record when I say that, but they do the opposite so often that a reminder is necessary. Dez Bryant will also prove to be a difficult assignment, as he has been for opposing defenses all season, but if the Bears can limit his yaradage, they have a chance to win.
The Bears have played close games all year long, and have ended up on the losing side of those game more often than not after holding a lead for a good portion of the game. Even when they have won those close games, they still have given opponents the opportunity to close the gap. Some fault goes to the offense for not scoring enough or making questionable decisions in key moments. You would think they would realize they are throwing away their season and shore up their issues, but that has not been the case.
The offense for the Bears will have a tough time keeping the ball away from Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, as he is constantly around the ball and flying with his head on a swivel. Josh McCown needs to play smart and get the ball quickly into the hands of one of his many weapons in the safest way possible.
Speaking of his weapons, the best wide receiver duo in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have the opportunity to continue their great run. The Cowboys have given up almost 300 yards through the air per game, so it would not be surprising if either of them had a huge game.
Although the season has been going on for fourteen weeks now, the Bears’ real season starts Monday night. They can no longer afford to lose a game, as their playoff hopes are on the line.
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