The Chicago Bears have not been playing well of late, and time is running out for them to turn their season around. The team hopes to take one step closer towards making the playoffs when they host the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 on "Monday Night Football."
Halfway through the year, the Bears were in a strong position. The team, though, has faltered in recent weeks, losing three of their last four games. They haven’t won two straight since September and will need help from others around the league, as a result. At 6-6, the Bears trail the Detroit Lions by one game in the NFC North. The Lions essentially have a 1.5-game lead, considering they beat their rivals in both meetings, giving them the tiebreaker in the division.
Reaching the postseason as a wild card team is likely out of the question for the Bears. The Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints are tied for the No.5 seed at 9-3. The San Francisco 49ers hold the last playoff spot at 8-4.
The Cowboys trail the final wild card spot by one game, but they are in the driver’s seat to win the NFC East. They are tied with the Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East, but they have the advantage with a perfect division record and a win against the Eagles
For the fourth time in five games, the Bears will be without their starting quarterback. Josh McCown gets the call over Jay Cutler, who’s still battling an ankle injury. During the week, head coach Marc Trestman wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Cutler playing, but he was limited at practice on Thursday and Friday and is not ready to go.
"There's a lot of clarity to Jay's and our communication," Trestman said. "Jay's very clear on where he is medically. We've been very, very clear that he's got to be released by the doctors before he can play. He's come to terms with that. He's a strong-willed, strong-minded guy. He can't control this decision on Monday other than to continue to work at his rehab."
Chicago might actually be better off without Cutler. McCown has spent most of his 11-year career as a backup, but he’s outplayed the Bears’ No.1 signal caller in 2013. In six games, McCown has thrown nine touchdowns and just one interceptions for a 103.6 passer rating. Cutler has an 88.4 passer rating and his 63.0 completion percentage is less than McCown’s 65.2.
Despite the all the criticism he’s taken as the Cowboys’ quarterback, Dallas doesn’t have much to complain about with Tony Romo. In his eighth season as a starter, Romo’s 97.3 passer rating is good enough for eighth in NFL, putting him right behind McCown.
Romo might not have such an easy time of it against the Bears, though, considering his recent history against the club. Last year, the two teams met, and Romo had one of the worst nights of his career. In 43 tries, the quarterback only had 12 incompletions, but five of those were caught by Chicago defenders. Dallas lost 34-18 in another "Monday Night Football" matchup between the teams.
Since the Bears are 1-3 in their last four games, and the Cowboys have the exact opposite record during that time, Chicago isn’t favored at home. The current betting line at most Las Vegas casinos has the contest set at a pick’em, but some have the Bears by one point. The Cowboys were a slight underdog entering the week.
With eight victories against the point spread, the Cowboys are tied for the NFL lead. The Bears sit alone with the worst record against the spread, having covered just two of 12 games.
Betting Odds: Bears by 1 point
Over/Under: 48 points
Prediction: Dallas over Chicago, 30 - 23