IRVING, Texas –For a Week 4 game, Monday's contest is a biggie. Either the Cowboys will enter their bye week on a winning streak, or they'll have two weeks to stew on falling back to .500, providing further doubt about their ability to sustain success.
Standing in the way are the Bears, also a 2-1 team, feeling they have a lot to prove as well following wins against Indianapolis and St. Louis, but a loss in a physical matchup against Green Bay. The lights are rarely brighter than on Monday Night Football. Ahead of this highly-anticipated matchup, here is the gut feeling of Nick Eatman, Josh Ellis, Bryan Broaddus and Rowan Kavner:
Josh:This is an interesting matchup because I truly think of the Cowboys and Bears as similar teams, particularly up front. Both have a very good pass rush, but protect their own quarterback poorly at times. With that said, I give the Cowboys an edge because they're at home. Typically, teams who have a crowd noise advantage get the better end of the pass-rush battles. That should tip the game in the Cowboys' favor just slightly, but it's Monday Night Football, and we've seen a lot of weird things happen under the lights.
Bryan:There are two talented quarterbacks playing in this game Monday night at Cowboys Stadium but the big difference between them is that one is better at protecting the football. There is no doubt that both of these offenses will be under attack from the opening whistle so the quarterback that handles that pressure better will give his team the best chance to win. Through the first three weeks of this NFL season, Tony Romo has done a better job of protecting that ball under some very trying situations than Jay Cutler has. When teams are usually this evenly matched, as these two teams are, turnovers will determine the outcome of the game. Look for Rob Ryan and his defense to force Jay Cutler into mistakes that will in the end be the difference in this game.
Rowan: The Cowboys haven't had an issue shutting down opponents' top receiving threats. Brandon Marshall may not want to check Vincent Jackson's or Hakeem Nicks' tapes against Dallas this year. It's also unlikely Marshall will have time to get deep with the pressure put on Cutler, who's had the same offensive line problems Tony Romo's dealt with all year. Romo will face perhaps the most pressure he's seen this year against Chicago's front. But the edge swings toward the Cowboys at home with a healthy running back against a Bears team with a limited or unavailable Matt Forte. Nick: What's interesting about this game is the Cowboys and Bears have the same strengths – defensive pass rush. And they have the same weakness right now in their struggles on the offensive line. So whichever team can keep their own weakness in check will be a difference there. And Tony Romo has fared well against this Tampa-2 defense in the past. Obviously the Bears are tenacious at times, but I'm expecting Jason Witten to have a big bounce-back game this week. I could see the Cowboys making an effort to get him involved early with some easy catches and trying to restore his confidence. I don't think it'll be as dramatic as last Monday night, but I do think it'll be an odd game with some crazy plays. My gut tells me the Cowboys will be 3-1 heading into the bye.