Chicago Bears Maul Detroit Lions; Dallas Cowboys Up Next

Chicago Bears Maul Detroit
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The Chicago Bears (6-6) got back to .500 by mauling the Detroit Lions (3-8-1) on Thanksgiving Day. It was a must-win game and the Bears accomplished their goal with a fine offensive performance. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky likely played his best game of the season and the defense held on despite a valiant effort by the Lions and their rookie quarterback David Blough.

Chicago Bears Maul Detroit Lions; Next Up Are the Dallas Cowboys

The Bears have beaten the Lions two years in a row on Thanksgiving Day in their building. Last year, it vaulted Chicago to an NFC North division championship. Can it once again propel them to an NFC Playoff berth? There are four games left. The Bears likely need to win all four games to have a shot at the Playoffs this year. The next opponent for the Bears will be the Dallas Cowboys (6-6), another underachieving team thus far. Before we dive into the Week 14 Preview, let’s award some game balls for the Lions game.

Game Ball 1 – Anthony Miller

Anthony Miller gets our first Game Ball Award for his performance in Detroit. He had nine catches for 140 yards on 13 targets. Miller caught three passes on the game-winning drive including a 32-yard catch on third and five from the Lions’ 34-yard line. The Bears offense needed players to step up to get this offense untracked. Miller was that player on Thursday, and hopefully moving forward. The second-year receiver has been criticized for being an inconsistent route runner. Perhaps Miller has turned a corner and will become a consistent playmaker from now on.

Game Ball #2 – Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith recorded a game-high 15 total tackles, 10 of which were solo stops, and two sacks to lead Chicago to the divisional road victory. Smith has been improving by leaps and bounds since his one-game absence for personal reasons on September 29. Since then, Smith has led the Bears with double digit total tackles in four of his last five games, adding an interception along with the two sacks. He’s becoming a young difference maker. With fellow inside linebacker Danny Trevathan on injured reserve, Smith seems to be taking more of a leadership role. It’s working. Smith is the main man on the Bears defense now and moving forward.

Player of the Game: Mitch Trubisky

Mitch Trubisky had his best performance of the season on Thanksgiving Day. Bears fans can give thanks that Trubisky isn’t ducking from the challenge. Despite all the criticism, he is working to get better and lately he has improved. In Detroit, Trubisky completed 29 of 38 passes for 338 yards. He threw for three touchdowns and only one interception. He was only sacked once and had a 118.1 rating. Trubisky set his new season high in passing yards in both of the last two weeks, going for 278 yards against the Giants and now 338 at the Lions. Maybe Trubisky is finally getting in rhythm along with head coach and play-caller Matt Nagy. Can they continue to find the answers over the last four games? They better. If not, the season might be over before January.

Week 14 Preview

For the second consecutive week, both the Bears and Dallas Cowboys will play on a Thursday. This Thursday night, the Cowboys (6-6) travel to Chicago to play the Bears (6-6) in Soldier Field. Lately, the Cowboys are struggling more than the Bears, losing three of their last four games. Owner Jerry Jones has been flip-flopping in his endorsement of head coach Jason Garrett and the coaching staff. Will he fire Garrett? If Dallas wins the NFC East and goes to the playoffs, it might be enough to re-sign Garrett to another deal. Ultimately, I think Garrett needs to win one, two, or even three playoff games in order for him to keep his job. Super Bowl or bust for Garrett and the Cowboys or else Jones will likely go another route.

So where does the pressure lie in this week’s game? Both teams drastically need victories. The difference is the Bears are in third place behind two teams with eight (Minnesota 8-4) and nine (Green Bay 9-3) wins. Since both San Francisco and Seattle have 10 victories (10-2), both wild card spots are accounted for by teams with at least eight wins. Therefore, Chicago needs to make up ground. With only four games left, the Bears likely need to win all four games (vs Dallas, at Green Bay, vs Kansas City, at Minnesota). The most likely scenario has the Bears ousting the Vikings. They’ll need Minnesota to lose to one of their other three remaining foes (vs Lions, at Chargers, vs Packers) and of course, lose to the Bears when they host in the season finale in Minnesota.

The Numbers

TeamRankings.com surprisingly ranks the Cowboys at ninth overall while the Bears are just 18th overall.

ESPN’s FPI (Football Power Index) gives the Cowboys a 57.4 percent chance to win.

Statistically, the Bears have the better defense allowing just 17.3 points per game, which is fourth in the NFL and second in the NFC (behind the 49ers). The Cowboys allow 19.7 points per game. However, Dallas has a much superior offense as they average 25.8 points per game, which ranks eighth. Chicago only scores 17.7 points per game.

This matchup could certainly go either way. It’s a virtual tossup. The Cowboys and Bears have seven common opponents. In most cases, the teams have had the same result. For example, both Dallas and Chicago have played New Orleans, and both lost. However, the Cowboys beat the Eagles while the Bears lost to the Eagles. In the same regard, the Bears beat the Vikings but the Cowboys lost to the Vikings. What does it all mean? It means we have a very even matchup.

As of Tuesday, the official point spread in the Chicago Tribune, which uses pregame.com, has Dallas favored by 2.5 points. The Bears have the home-field advantage. Both teams have an equal amount of rest since they both played on Thanksgiving. Momentum? Chicago has the momentum, winning three of their last four while Dallas has lost three of four, as mentioned earlier. Intangibles? The Bears, as a team, need a win more since they’re in third place while Dallas is still in first place despite their downturn. On the other hand, Cowboys head coach Garrett (on the hot seat) needs a win way more than Bears head coach Matt Nagy, the reigning Coach of the Year.

Pick the Bears. Check that, pick the Cowboys. Bottom line, the Bears are at home where they are 3-3 on the season. Dallas is 3-3 on the road. See what I mean? Everything is almost exactly equal. I think this is a one-point game. We’ll take the Bears.

Prediction

Chicago Bears 17, Dallas Cowboys 16

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