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Bears Present A Hidden Matchup Problem


Two teams facing similar circumstances.

No, the Chicago Bears' 6-6 doesn't look quite the same as the Dallas Cowboys'. But there's no question that these two teams entered 2019 with sights on winning those NFC, and neither squad has met that potential as of yet.

The Bears have long garnered praise for their ferocious defense, and this year is no different. Chicago is top 10 in yards allowed and scoring defense, and the Bears figure to make life difficult on Dak Prescott & Co. on Thursday night.

There are other elements to consider in this matchup, though. Here's a look at what Chicago brings to the table in all three phases of the game.

Khalil Mack

There's not a more relentless, explosive edge rusher the Cowboys will face all season. Mack leads the Bears with 6.5 sacks through 12 games. That's a little below normal season pace for the four-time Pro Bowler, who hasn't had fellow Pro Bowl lineman Akiem Hicks (elbow) rushing next to him for the last eight games. But the down-to-down effort from Mack is still there, and he still has a knack for being around the ball (he also leads the Bears with five forced fumbles). Mack has moved around the formation at times, so both La'el Collins and Tyron Smith could see him Thursday. "I don't know that there is a dynamic player on the outside of a defense in the league that plays like him," tight end Jason Witten said. "He's strong, long arms, plays the run well, got good feel – when he's getting double-teamed he knows how to take on the double team and eliminate those blocks. And of course he's one of the best pass rushers in the league. Just rare ability."

Mitch Trubisky

Laugh if you want to, but it would be a mistake. There's no denying that Trubisky has struggled through a rough third season. He's throwing for just 6.1 yards per attempt, as his season average is just 183 passing yards per game. But Trubisky possesses something that has given the Cowboys fits this season -- athleticism. Jeff Driskel ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on the Cowboys in Detroit two weeks ago, and Josh Allen followed that up by running for 43 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving. To be fair, Trubisky hasn't been much of a runner this year. He has just 80 rushing yards on the year. He still has the ability to do so, and that could present problems.

Cordarrelle Patterson

If there has been a consistent theme to the Cowboys of late, it would be the struggles on special teams. It doesn't get easier this week with the Bears' Cordarrelle Patterson. He is one of the most dynamic returners in NFL history and leads the league in kickoff return yards with 711. Patterson is also not afraid to take the ball out of the end zone, scoring on a 102-yard return in October against the Saints. It was his seventh career kickoff return for a touchdown, the third-most in NFL history behind Joshua Cribbs and Leon Washington (8). We've seen the Cowboys have issues with nearly every unit on special teams and this week, they have to be ready to cover every kick because Patterson will be bringing it out every time.