Jason Garrett is under increasing pressure following the Cowboys 26-15 dismantling by the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving.
Fresh off the back of a 24-20 thanksgiving victory over the hapless Detroit Lions the Chicago Bears (6-6) entertain a Dallas Cowboys (6-6) team awash with an uncanny ability to self destruct as the nation gazes on. Despite back-to-back loses the Cowboys find themselves atop of the NFC East thanks in part to the ineptitude of a flawed Eagles team. As for the Bears, three victories in the last four outings leaves the door open for post season football, be it via a unlikely set of circumstances.
Dak Prescott was sacked a season high four times against the Bills and with Lael Collins (knee) Tyron Smith (Achilles) and Zach Martin (elbow) listed as questionable it may well prove difficult to keep Prescott upright against a fearsome Bears pass rush. Prescott went 32-of-49 for 355 yards against a Bills pass defense that was ranked third overall coming into the game. Can Prescott repeat the feat against a Bears defense that’s not allowed a quarterback to pass for more than 287 yards in a single game during 2019?
Amari Cooper bounced back after being held without a catch against the Patriots, reeling in 8-of-11 targets for 85 yards on Thanksgiving and needs just 29 yards to eclipse 1000 yards receiving for the fourth time in six seasons for the Cowboys. Michael Gallup has been targeted 35 times over a four-game stretch but is without a trip to the endzone in his past three games. With the Bears passing defense having given up the third fewest number of touchdowns to opposing wide receivers (7) it makes for an enthralling contest between the two units.
The big play capability that we’d come to expect from Ezekiel Elliott returned against the Bills in the form of a 20-yards reception and a punishing 30-yard rush. Elliott averaged 5.92 yards per carry and 9.43 yards per reception and will look to continue his upturn in form against a solid Bears run defense.
With an abundance of talent at key positions along a defense that’s ranked 9th overall it’s almost incomprehensible to discover the unit is riding a 255 snap streak since their last takeaway. The Cowboys are also ranked dead last with just four interceptions and are among the bottom five in takeaways.
Can the Cowboys stop Trubisky?
Mitch Trubisky’s erratic play has held the offense hostage throughout the course of 2019. Averaging a measly 17.7 points per game (29th overall), 202.4 yards passing (28th overall) coupled with a career low of 6.1 yards per passing attempt has been met with cacophony of discord emanating from the Soldier Field faithful.
Trubisky was 29-of-38 for 338 yards three touchdowns and an interception against the Lions defense. Fully expect Trubisky to be brought back down to earth against a Cowboys secondary that’s allowing a measly 215.2 yards per game (8th overall).
The backfield duo of David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen have endured a tough campaign with neither back averaging over 3.5 yards per carry. Montgomery a third round rookie rushed for 75 yards off 16 carries against the Lions whilst Cohen has been unable to replicate his 2018 form.
Having been targeted a team leading 108 times its no secret that the Bears passing attack goes through Allen Robinson. Averaging 70.8 yards per game and enduring the best two-game stretch of the year (217 yards and two touchdowns) the 26-year-old faces a stern test against the eighth overall pass defense. With Taylor Gabriel doubtful (concussion) expect to see more of Anthony Miller. The 2018 2nd round pick had a season high 13 targets en-route to a career day (9-of-13 for 140 yards) and has seen nine targets or more in each of his last three games.
Recreating the success of the Bears 2018 defense was a tough ask from the outset for the incoming Chuck Pagano. Whilst the numbers and takeaways haven’t reached the eye popping levels of his predecessor Paganos defense is keeping opposing defenses to an average of just 17.3 point per game (4th overall) and will push the Cowboys to the limit.
As you’d expect Khalil Mack leads the team in sacks 6.5 despite an facing an increase of double teams due to the absence of Akiem Hicks. Bilah Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris and Nick Williams have performed admirably during Nicks’ absence (dislocated elbow) with 8.5 sacks, 9 tackles for a loss and 21 quarterback hits. Roquan Smith had a career day against the Lions with 15 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits in what’s be a stellar season for eighth overall pick of the 2018 draft.