Two teams that have been impressive defensively but that have also been unimpressive offensively the last two weeks square off on Monday Night Football this week when the Dallas Cowboys (2-1) host the Chicago Bears (2-1).
Both teams won at home last week, but the Cowboys just got by Tampa Bay 16-10 while the Bears beat lowly St. Louis 23-6 with the offense scoring only one touchdown in a game that was 10-6 entering the fourth quarter. Dallas is a -3 (-125) favorite with the total set at 41.5.
1. Why Dallas will cover the spread: The Cowboys will cover this game if they can get running back DeMarco Murray back on track. Murray was great when rushing for 131 yards vs. the Giants on opening week, but he was then shutdown by the Seahawks, which is forgivable, and then again last week when he rushed for only 38 yards on 18 carries vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which may be cause for concern. If Murray gets going, it would loosen things up for Tony Romo to find his fine plethora of receivers downfield. If the running game is again stymied, the passing may be difficult vs. a Chicago defense that is only allowing a scant 5.4 yards per pass attempt.
2. Why Chicago will cover the spread: The Bears have the opposite goal as they will cover this spread if they can establish the passing game early, which would make it a tad easier for Michael Bush to find some running lanes later on (assuming Matt Forte is still out). The Chicago offense looked great while scoring 41 points and accumulating 428 total yards vs. the Colts on Week 1, but Jay Cutler has reverted back to the “bad Jay” the last couple of weeks and Chicago’s big off-season acquisition Brandon Marshall, who was reunited with Cutler after the pair had some prolific seasons in Denver, has dropped too many passes.
3. Total Talk: This total is a tough call, especially since it is entirely possible that neither team achieves its goal. The Bears’ rushing defense is allowing only 76.0 yards per game and maybe there is a chance that Murray was a bit overrated entering the year based on what he did over half a season last year, while Cutler will be trying to get something established vs. a Dallas pass defense allowing 5.1 yards per attempt. If neither team achieves its goal, we feel that Dallas has the better chance of “accidentally” scoring some points because the Cowboy receivers seem more capable of making big plays than Bush is in the Chicago running game. We are passing on the total and giving a weak nod to the Cowboys, although admittedly with very little confidence.
4. Betting Trends for the game: In a clash of trends, the ‘over’ is 6-1 in the Bears’ last seven games following a ATS win, but the ‘under’ is 5-0 in Dallas’s last five games following a straight up win.
Dallas 24 – Chicago 17