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The Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys have one thing very much in common heading into their Monday night game: quarterbacks who are among the most talented but the most criticized in the NFL. The winner of Monday’s game likely will be which offensive line protects Jay Cutler or Tony Romo better.
Chicago (2-1) didn’t look good offensively last week in beating the Rams 23-6. Major Wright came up with the 45-yard interception return for a touchdown, while Michael Bush added a 3-yard scoring run and Robbie Gould kicked three field goals for the Bears. Cutler finished 17-of-31 passing for 183 yards with an interception for Chicago, which played without Matt Forte because of an ankle injury. Bush rushed for 55 yards on 18 carries, while Brandon Marshall added five catches for 71 yards.
Forte is saying he expects to return for the Cowboys game but he’s officially questionable. With Bush starting vs. St. Louis, the Bears gained 77 yards on 19 carries in the first half against the Rams but only 26 yards on 15 carries in the second half — including 21 from ay Cutler on a scramble. Since scoring 41 points against the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener, the Bears’ offense has scored 27 — only two touchdowns — in the next two games. Cutler ranks 31st in passer rating (58.6) among the NFL’s 32 starting quarterbacks and shares the league lead for interceptions (6).
Dallas was able to edge Tampa Bay 16-10 in its home opener. Romo completed 25-of-39 passes for 283 yards and an interception for the Cowboys (2-1). DeMarco Murray carried the ball 18 times for 38 yards and a score. Miles Austin caught five passes for 107 yards.
The Cowboys need to get tight end Jason Witten back on track. He is in the worst slump of his career and it is really holding this offense back. He dropped three more passes in Week 3, which gives him six drops for the season. He has been Romo’s go-to guy for years and right now his lack of production is really noticeable on third down. Facing a Bears defense that will play a lot of Cover 2 looks, Witten will certainly have his chances to attack the middle of the field with seam routes if he can get past MLB Brian Urlacher in coverage.
Romo was battered by the Bucs and the Bears lead the NFL with 14 sacks. Three defensive linemen have collected at least 2.5 sacks, with defensive tackle Henry Melton (3), defensive end Julius Peppers (2.5) and defensive end Israel Idonije (2.5) all ranking among the league’s top 20 players this season. That projects as a matchup challenge for the Cowboys, who have an offensive line in transition that surrendered four sacks in Sunday’s 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay as well as several other hits on quarterback Tony Romo.
Dallas, meanwhile, has the NFL’s premier pass-rusher in DeMarcus Ware going against a Chicago line that has allowed Cutler to be sacked 11 times, including seven in a loss to Green Bay. The Bears fared well when they played the Cowboys in 2010, with Cutler sacked just once, by Anthony Spencer, in a 27-20 victory. But that was two seasons ago. This season, 3-4 defenses like the Cowboys’ have had their way with the Bears’ offensive line.
The Cowboys lead the all-time series 13-9 and have won two of the last three meetings. This will be just the fourth meeting between the teams in the last 14 seasons. At one point, the Cowboys had defeated the Bears in six consecutive games from 1973-84.
The Cowboys are making their 74th appearance on “Monday Night Football,” second most in league history. Miami has made the most appearance with 78. The Cowboys lead the NFL with 43 MNF victories. The Bears and Cowboys have met only once on “Monday Night Football” with the Bears winning 22-6 on Sept. 2, 1996. With Lovie Smith as the coach, the Bears are 7-2 on Monday nights, including winning five of the last six contests.
WAGERWEB.COM ODDS: Cowboys -3 (41.5)
BEARS NOTES: In only start vs. Dal. (9/19/10), QB Jay Cutler completed 21 of 29 (72.4 pct.) for 277 yards with 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 136.7 rating. Incl. playoffs, when he has 100+ rating, his teams are 24-0. Has won 4 of past 5 MNF starts … RB Michael Bush had rush TD last week & ties for NFL lead with 3 rush TDs … WR Brandon Marshall aims for 3rd in row vs. Dal. with TD. Since 2007, has 490 catches, tied for 3rd most in NFL. Incl. playoffs, WR-KR-PR Devin Hester has 19 total return TDs (12 PR, 6 KR, 1 missed FG), tied with HOFer Deion Sanders for most in NFL history. In 8 MNF games, has 6 TDs (3 PR, 2 KR, 1 rec.) … CB Tim Jennings aims for 5th in row with INT & has 5 INTs in past 4. S Major Wright had 45-yard INT-TD last week. Bears had 6 sacks in Week 3, incl. 2.5 by DE Israel Idonije. DE Julius Peppers has 2 3-sack games vs. Dal. Has 102.5 sacks since 2002, tied for 3rd most in NFL. CB Charles Tillman had FF in last meeting. Since 2005, is only player in NFL with 25+ INTs (26) & 25+ FFs (27).
NOTES: QB Tony Romo has 703 pass yards (351.5 per game)in 2 starts vs. Chi. In past 4 MNF starts with 10+ att., Romo is 4-0 … RB DeMarco Murray has 4 130-yard rush games in career & team is 4-0 in those contests … TE Jason Witten has 40 catches for 445 yards (89 per game) & 2 TDs in past 5 MNF games. In past 5 on MNF, Witten has 3 games with 9 catches. Since 2007, has 452 catches, most by NFL TE. In last meeting, WR Miles Austin tied career-high with 10 catches for 142 yards. Had 5 catches for 107 yards last week. Has TD catch or 100+ yards in 6 of past 7. WR Kevin Ogletree ties for 4th in NFL with 7 catches on 3rd down. WR Dez Bryant had 62-yard PR-TD in last meeting & avg. 26 yards per catch … LB DeMarcus Ware has 29.5 sacks in past 22. Since 2006, has 95.5 sacks, most in NFL. Has 6.5 sacks, 4 FF & FR in past 7 on MNF. LB Anthony Spencer aims for 3rd in row vs. Chi. with sack.
WAGERWEB.COM TRENDS: Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Monday games. Bears are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game. Bears are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a S.U. win. Cowboys are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games overall. Cowboys are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 vs. NFC. Cowboys are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS loss. Cowboys are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. win. Cowboys are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 Monday games. Under is 6-0 in Cowboys last 6 games overall.