Week four of the 2012 NFL season is just about all said and done with but first comes what should be a great defensive battle between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. Both teams come into this one with a 2-1 record looking to keep pace with teams within their respective divisions who won yesterday improving to 3-1 (the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East and the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North). Let’s take a look at some factors that could result in the outcome of this one.
Dallas is playing incredible defense so far this season allowing just 250 total yards (1st in NFL), 137 passing yards (1st in NFL) and 18 points per (tied for 7th in NFL) per game. When talking about the Cowboys defense it all begins with DeMarcus Ware (4 sacks tied for 7th in NFL) and the amount of pressure that he can put on the opposing team’s quarterback. If Ware can pressure Jay Cutler like he has been getting pressured early on this year (sacked 11 times through three games) then it will allow rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne and the Dallas secondary to have some interception opportunities as Cutler has thrown six already this season.
Chicago is also playing at a high level on the defensive side of the ball allowing just 279 total yards of offense (5th in NFL), 203 passing yards (7th in NFL), 76 rushing yards (4th in NFL) and 16.7 points (5th in NFL) per game so far. The Bears will also need Julius Peppers to get pressure on Tony Romo (who is prone to making mistakes) so he can rush his throws and Tim Jennings (leads NFL with four interceptions) and the Chicago secondary to make potential game changing plays.
Both defenses are going to flew their collective muscles which means this game is going to essentially come down to which ever offense can minimize their mistakes and be more effective. Dallas is going to need a big game out of DeMarco Murray (50 carries for 213 yards and a score plus nine receptions for 57 yards this year) if he can dictate the tempo of the game for the Cowboys then they have a better chance of keeping Peppers, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs off-balance which will then allow Romo to make a play down field.
Matt Forte‘s status for this game will be a game time decision but whether he plays or not Michael Bush will have to do most of the heavy lifting for the Bears’ offense. This Dallas defense is the best in the league so far so Cutler shouldn’t try do too much against them. If Bush can run for a significant amount of yardage and control the pace then the Bears can win the time of possession battle which will tire out the Cowboys pass rushers thus opening up the air attack for Cutler and Brandon Marshall.
These two teams are almost mirror images of one another which should mean a great game is on tap; I’ll take Dallas in a close one 23-20.