If the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears want to reach the playoffs, both teams are in need of a victory on "Monday Night Football." They each are a half-game out of first place as they conclude the Week 14 schedule.
The Bears caught a break on Sunday when the Detroit Lions lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles win hurt the Cowboys, who are looking to keep pace with Philadelphia in the NFC East. The Cowboys are currently in better shape than the Bears, though, since they currently own the tiebreaker in their division.
The weather is likely to have an impact on the contest. At kickoff, it’s expected to be 16 degrees in Chicago, but the wind chill could make it feel like there are freezing temperatures at Soldier Field. According to WLS-TV in Chicago, gusts are expected to reach 24 miles per hour.
Poor conditions could favor the Bears, who have the task of stopping one of the best offenses in the league. Only the Broncos and Seahawks score more than the Cowboys in 2013, but their attack is predicated mostly on the strength of their passing game. Tony Romo has thrown for 3,140 yards and 24 scores, while DeMarco Murray has just 697 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. The weather could force the teams to rely on the rush more than usual.
Not only does Dallas have trouble running the ball, they also haven’t been good at slowing down the opponent’s ground attack. The Cowboys are 27th in the NFL, allowing 126.7 rushing yards per game. They’ll try to stop Matt Forte who’s sixth in the league with 971 rushing yards. He’s also dangerous out of the backfield with 58 catches for 445 yards.
“He is an extreme challenge,” Dallas linebacker Sean Lee said, according to ESPN.com. “He is one of the best all-around backs in the NFL. There is not one area of the game he is not good at. He is a great pass protector, great runner, great out of the backfield catching passes, so it’s going to be a challenge for us to try to stop him.”
In recent years, the Cowboys have struggled in December, which could be indicative of their inability to play well in the cold weather. Since 2006, the Cowboys are just 13-17 in the final month of the regular season.
Player To Watch: Matt Forte
Time: 8:30 p.m. Monday
Place: Soldier Field
Online Stream: WatchESPN
Updated Betting Odds: Bears by 1
Prediction: Cowboys over Bears, 27-23