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NFL Betting: Cowboys vs. Bears Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 12/8/2013 10:53:42 AM

The Dallas Cowboys are trying to finish the job in the NFC East and win a division title so that they can host a wild card playoff game. The Chicago Bears are immersed in a very tight race in the NFC North, one in which they know that the erratic Detroit Lions could give away a game at any time. Two teams with playoff aspirations will meet in the Monday Night Football spotlight, creating one of the more emotional and dramatic games of the NFL season to date.

Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears

Odds: PICK

Total: 49.5

The Dallas Cowboys have, for most of the past 15 years, struggled with consistency. Ever since the Cowboys lost to the Carolina Panthers in the 1996 NFC Divisional Playoff Game, the franchise has failed to make a deep playoff run. That loss to Carolina marked the true end of the Troy Aikman-era Cowboys, the collection of great teams that had been Super Bowl contenders for half a decade and won three world championships under two different head coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer. Ever since that day in Charlotte, Dallas hasn’t been able to get past the divisional round of the playoffs. The Cowboys’ best shot came in the 2007 season, when they gained the top seed in the NFC playoffs and had home-field advantage on the road to Super Bowl XLII. However, the New York Giants upset the Cowboys in the divisional round, and Dallas really hasn’t recovered since. The Cowboys made the divisional round one more time in the 2009 playoffs, but Minnesota crushed Dallas, knocking “America’s Team” into mediocrity for the past few seasons.

These events might all exist in the past, but they form part of a consistent story, a story in which the Cowboys generally fall short. Ever since that brilliant run in the mid-1990s, Dallas hasn’t amounted to much as a franchise. The Cowboys so frequently lose games such as this one, right when they appear to be rounding into form as a team. Head coach Jason Garrett simply doesn’t inspire much confidence. Dallas’ best chance in this game lies with its ability to shut down Chicago’s offense. The Cowboys might be inconsistent as an extension of their personality as a team, but Chicago is just as inconsistent, albeit because the Bears have lacked their starting quarterback and their best starting linebacker for much of the season. Jay Cutler and Lane Briggs have both missed extensive portions of this season with injuries, but it’s the injury to Cutler that has truly constrained the Bears as a team. Cutler’s arm strength is so good that the Bears – thanks to the emergence of number-two receiver Alshon Jeffery – could have had one of the better offenses in the league this season. Cutler’s absence deprived Chicago of the ability to contend for a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. As things stand, Cutler’s status for this game is uncertain, meaning that Dallas can gain the benefit of playing against backup Josh McCown, who – though better than an injured Cutler – is not better than a healthy Cutler.

Prediction

It’s true that the Cowboys have shown fewer negative tendencies in recent weeks. Yet, the prospect of a night game in cold weather should make the Bears feel right at home in the Windy City. Give Chicago the edge due to the location of this game and its attendant weather conditions.

Pick: Bears

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