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Chicago Bears: 5 things to Watch Tonight vs. Dallas Cowboys

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Chicago Bears: 5 things to Watch Tonight vs. Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The Chicago Bears will try to go 3-1 for the season when the face off against the Dallas Cowboys in tonight’s Monday night match-up. The Bears come into this game not living up to expectations on offense, while at the same time exceeding expectations on defense.

The offense after getting off to a fast start against the Indianapolis Colts in week one, have follow that up with two consecutive abysmal performances. Quarterback Jay Cutler was considered to be a potential MVP candidate, but has look far from that through three games this season.

Part of Cutler struggles is on Cutler himself, the other half could be contributed to first year offensive coordinator Mike Tice. As a first year offensive coordinator, Tice has had his ups (41 points in the opener) and downs (33 points the next two games).

With the offense going through their growing pains, the defense on the other hand has surprised a lot of fans so far this season. So far, the Bears defense ranks fifth in points and yards allowed, while also ranking seventh and fourth passing and rush yards allowed.

The defensive line has been the driving force to the unit success getting consistent pressure on opposing QB’s week-to-week, picking up 14 sacks on the way.

The Bears will face a Cowboys team that in some way is a mirror image of itself. Cowboys have a lot of offensive talent on the team, but the defense is the main reason why they are 2-1 this season.

Before they face off, here’s a look at five things you need to watch in tonight’s Monday night NFC showdown.

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Cutler vs. Primetime Pressure: Round Two

Jay Cutler
Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Cutler’s struggle in big games is well documented. Against the Green Bay Packers, Cutler was arguably the worst player on the field in game watched by millions of people. Cutler gets a shot at redemption against a Rob Ryan defense that has been on fire through three games of the season. Cutler will have to be a careful with the football against the Cowboys aggressive corners, which will look to get turnovers.

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Matt Forte Effectiveness Throughout the Game.

Matt Forte

Matt Forte will return to action tonight after missing the previous week with an ankle injury. Forte is critical to the team coming out of Cowboys stadium with a win, so if he’s moving well the Bears have a great shot pulling out the victory. If Forte is still showing some ill-effects of that ankle, then the Bears might become one dimensional against a Cowboys defense that ranks first in passing yards allowed.

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Can the Bears Defensive Line Exploit a Weakness that is the Cowboys Offensive Line?

Julius Peppers

The Bears D-Line has faced some bad offensive lines the past three games, and they face another in the Cowboys O- line. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has done a great job putting together different line combinations and experimenting with different line formations that have been overwhelming against opposing O-Lines. One of the match-ups to watch in this area of the game is Julius Peppers against second year player Tyron Smith. Smith has struggle since being moved from the right tackle to left tackle, and the Bears might exploit this match-up by lining up their best pass rusher against the Cowboys weaker offensive tackle. The Bears defense can’t give Tony Romo time in the pocket because he’s capable of craving up just about any defense in the league.

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How Mike Tice will game plan against Demarcus Ware?

Demarcus Ware

Just like how the Cowboys have to circle where Peppers is on the field, for Cutler’s safety Tice has to do the same thing with Demarcus Ware. Ryan likes to move Ware around in order to create match-up problems, so not only the O-Line but the backs have to be on high alert. One of the match-ups we can expect to occur throughout the game is Ware lined up over left tackle J’Marcus Webb. Webb bounce back last week with a serviceable performance, but he’s still a liability that Ryan might expose.

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Can the Passing Game Breakthrough Against Tough Cowboys Pass Defense?

Brandon Marshall

Outside of the Colts game, the passing game has struggle mightily. It will be interesting to see how Cutler and company will attack a Cowboys secondary that has been stingy throughout the first three weeks of the season. The focus will be on how the Cowboys cover Brandon Marshall; do they play 2-man coverage or do they have confidence in putting Brandon Carr one-on-one with throughout the game. Another focus will be if Earl Bennett breaks out of his two game funk as the Bears need all the options they can get against the Cowboys secondary.