IRVING, Texas – For all the focus on the struggles of these two offenses heading into Thursday night's matchup, I'm going to flip the script a little bit.
Both defenses in this game have shown the capability to play well at times this season, but it's been missing recently. Whichever defensive group puts together the better effort is going to come out of this game with a win.
Cowboys Win If:
The Bears are one of the most offensively talented teams the Cowboys will face all season in regard to the skill players. The Bears are a match up nightmare on so many different levels, and if this defense plays like it did last week against the Eagles with blown assignments, missed tackles and lack of discipline, I promise you will see the same results.
They cannot allow Matt Forte to get going in the running game, or Martellus Bennett catching routes underneath on third downs and breaking two or three tackles along the way. Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Sterling Moore have to battle for position in these routes against Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, making windows tight for Jay Cutler to throw into.
This Cowboys defensive line rotation has to get off blocks in the running game, and it can't give up in the passing game by rushing straight down the middle, making it easy for this Bears offensive line. They need to make things uncomfortable for Cutler and this offense the entire night.
This defense has the ability to shut down a good offense because we have seen it before against the Saints and Seahawks, but it's going to take more than thoughts and words to do it. Play that way and they will leave Chicago with a victory.
Bears Win If:
The Bears have been having their own issues on defense, especially in the way they have been defending the pass. They are at the bottom of the league when it comes to yards per attempt and yards allowed.
This defense really misses Charles Tillman and his ability to lock down opponents on the outside. If the Bears are going to win this game, it will come down to how well they play on the back end with Tim Jennings, Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte and rookie Kyle Fuller.
As much as I want to believe this Cowboys offense will try and show balance by running the ball, it will be their passing game that causes the most damage. I expect we will see the Bears with a similar gameplan to what the Eagles executed one week ago by choking off inside routes with Dez Bryant and denying him the opportunity to catch the ball on the move.
Look for the Bears' best corner, Fuller, to handle the responsibility of dealing with Bryant. I would also expect to see some type of double coverage on Jason Witten, as well, by not allowing him to work in the middle of the field.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is going to take his chances that Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris cannot beat him in this matchup if he can slow down both Bryant and Witten. Tucker will rely on his front seven to handle this Cowboys rushing attack, so his focus will be on the Cowboys passing game and if successful in dealing with that his chance of victory is much greater.