CHICAGO – A share of the NFC East lead left the grasp of the Cowboys a day ago as the Eagles took care of business and went to 8-5 as snow poured down Sunday against the Lions.
The 7-5 Cowboys have a chance to get back atop the division in the frigid conditions of Chicago with a Monday night matchup against the 6-6 Bears, who are also fighting to get atop their division.
Here are the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Rowan Kavner and David Helman.
Nick Eatman: I think it's normal to look at another team like the Bears and get caught up in what they do well. Guys like Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte and then factor in the cold and the playing conditions and it sometimes seems unfathomable for this Cowboys to win this game in this stadium in this month. But the Bears are 6-6 too and if you remember back earlier this year, they had a couple of wins in the final seconds or they should be a lot worse than 6-6. Obviously they did enough to win them but my point is, this team can get beat no matter the team or the conditions. I think the Cowboys are better and they grind out a win. I see Jason Witten playing well and the return of Sean Lee will lead to more third-and-long situations. I see Selvie with two sacks. It'll be close but I like Dallas, 23-19.
Rowan Kavner: If the Giants game a few weeks ago seemed sloppy, this one should take that to another level. With temperatures nearing the single digits and wind being a factor as well Monday in Chicago, it's not going to be the prettiest offensive football game. That's despite three of the best receivers in football taking the field in Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. I expect a lot of running when the wind's against each team and a lot of quick passes with a few back shoulder fades mixed in when it's behind them, which Bryant will score on. I predict Jeffery ends up the game's leading receiver, Marshall finds the end zone, but DeMarco Murray gets going and J.J. Wilcox secures a game-sealing pick as the Cowboys keep pace in the NFC East and leave chilly Chicago with a 21-17 win.
David Helman: It's encouraging to think the Cowboys are just two weeks removed from snagging a road win in harsh conditions. But this trip to Chicago feels like a different animal, as far as I'm concerned. The Bears are much more balanced than the Giants or Raiders, with a top-notch running back and two hard-to-handle wide receivers. They don't defend the run well, and I think the Cowboys will take advantage of that. I'm calling for DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle to both find the end zone. I think Chicago's weapons on offense are too much, though. Sean Lee's return should help keep Forte in check, but I look for Brandon Marshall to have a big day in a close Bears win.