Dallas Cowboys (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (6-6 SU, 2-9-1 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date and Time: Monday Night Football, December 9, 2013, 8:40 pm EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV: ESPN/DirecTV 206
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DAL. +1/CHI. -1
Over/Under Total: 50
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The Dallas Cowboys would love to have their regular season finale with the rival Philadelphia Eagles be for all the marbles in the NFC East, but in order to get to that magic date they will run a gauntlet of desperate, dangerous teams along the way starting this week when they face the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.
The Cowboys remained in a tie atop the NFC East with the Eagles by winning last week’s Thanksgiving Day traditional game at home over Oakland, 31-24. But with games against the Bears this week, followed by games against Green Bay and at Washington, Dallas has to remain focused on the task at hand and not get caught looking ahead to a showdown in the finale.
The Bears have lost two in a row and four of their last six to essentially fall into “must-win” mode from here on out. In last week’s 23-20 overtime loss at the Metrodome to the Vikings, the Bears blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter to add further frustration to an already maddening season. With QB Jay Cutler still listed as questionable it’s still unknown whether or not the Bears will be full strength against the Cowboys, but with the way Josh McCown has played it almost is a wash.
With questions about Cutler’s ankle lingering, oddsmakers cautiously set the opening point spread with the Bears as small 2-point favorites at home in Soldier Field. With most of the early money on the Cowboys, the line has moved down to minus -1 at most sportsbooks and as low as a pick em’ at some offshore sportsbooks.
The over/under total opened at 49.5 and has moved up slightly to 50 at some books, but there are still plenty of 49.5 listed on the board at a few houses.
The total is likely to move up more, especially if Cutler is cleared to play, because this game on paper looks like it could turn into an offensive shootout. Dallas with Tony Romo throwing to Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray out of the backfield (243 ypg passing) is a wicked combo that the now surprisingly weak Bears defense (28th overall 386 ypg; 32nd vs. run 153 ypg) will not be able to stop for four quarters and 60 minutes.
McCown has been solid and the Bears offense under new coach Marc Trestman has definitely been offensive-minded, to the tune of 382 yards a week (8th in NFL). Going against the Cowboys, their 32nd-ranked pass defense (295 ypg) and the 27th-ranked run defense (127 ypg) … Trestman and the Bears offense must be pinching themselves in their offensive game-plan meetings this week.
Chicago beat the Cowboys on the road last year, 34-18, in early October to make it two in a row over the self-proclaimed ‘America’s Team.” But historically the series has been in favor of the underdog, who has gone 4-1 ATS (dog is 3-0 SU in L3) dating back to the 1998 season.
The Bears are a miserable 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 home games though, and Dallas is 1-7 ATS in the last eight Monday Night Football appearances, so maybe it’s best to just play on the total.
If you play the total, the over is 10-4 in Chicago’s last 14 games overall, and 9-4-1 in Dallas MNF games.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: DeMarco Murray runs wild opening up the passing game for Tony Romo and his crew of receivers and the Cowboys win straight up. The Bears defense is HORRIBLE. I like this play even more if Jay Cutler somehow starts.
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