Once again, the Bears’ defense was embarrassed, getting predictably gashed all afternoon by Adrian Peterson. However the issue now, in my opinion, lies within the offense. It’s common knowledge that the Bears’ defense is atrocious, but it’s time to accept that maybe the Bears’ offense isn’t very good, either. Alshon Jeffery’s day was unbelievable and fun to watch, but the Bears are now 0-5 when Jeffery has 100 yards in a game. Josh McCown missed throw after throw in the first half and showed off his many weaknesses. This offense now hasn’t scored more than 23 points in a game since November 4. The defense is bad, but eventually the offense has to help; it hasn’t for weeks now.
Minnesota lost their starting quarterback, but it didn’t make much of a difference. Matt Cassel completed passes when he had to, including a 4th and 11 with a game on the line, where James Anderson inexplicably ran at him with his hands at his hips. The Bears are now 6-6. San Francisco won again, and right now, the Bears are also a half of a game behind the Lions in the division. They don’t own the tiebreaker there, either.
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t played in 11 days. They last played on Thanksgiving when they snuck out a home win against the Raiders. Tony Romo has been great this year, and after all of these years, he’s finally been consistently great. His touchdown to interception ratio is better than 3:1, and he’s completing 65 percent of his throws. Led by Romo, the Cowboys are extremely hot. Unfortunately, Romo has historically struggled in December, and his defense won’t help him this year if those issues flare up. The run and pass defenses for Dallas have been brutal this year, and those problems really showed when they gave up 8 million yards in one game earlier this season to the Broncos. The Bears pretty much have to win the rest of their games, and unfortunately, they have to start that against one of the NFC’s best.
College Football Recap
Obviously, there were two big games two days ago. Ohio State was matched up against Michigan State, and Missouri and Auburn went head to head. Auburn flew by Missouri, and the Buckeyes were finally knocked off by the Spartans. This sets up Auburn against Florida State for the National Championship.
The two underrated games of the day were Baylor against Texas and Oklahoma State versus their in-state rival Oklahoma. Somehow, the Cowboys lost to the Sooners at home, and Baylor beat the Longhorns. Therefore, Baylor won the Big-12 and will play UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.
The other three BCS games will be Oklahoma against Alabama (Sugar), Clemson versus Ohio State (Orange), and Michigan State and Stanford (Rose).
This game has the potential to go down as one of the coldest games in franchise history. The wind will be howling, and the temperatures will be in the high-teens. With all of that combined, the wind chill could dip into the negatives by the time this one ends.
As I’m sure everyone has heard, Jay Cutler is still nursing his ankle injury and Lance Briggs, seven weeks after his 4-6 week injury, continues to rehab his shoulder. Kyle Long (ankle), Brandon Marshall (quad), and Major Wright (hamstring) will all play. Anthony Walters (groin) is questionable. Dallas has a healthy squad. Their leader on defense, LB Sean Lee, is back today (hamstring). CB Morris Claiborne (hamstring) is out and KR/PR/WR Dwayne Harris (hamstring) is questionable. LB Justin Durant (hamstring) is back, too.
Did you know?
Matt Forte has run for 120+ yards in a game on ten different occasions. The Bears are 9-1 in those games. The only loss was last week.
N/A. (32-23-1 on the year)
Players to Watch
Jason Hatcher- Not a lot of people know about Jason Hatcher, because typically the majority of the attention goes toward DeMarcus Ware on that side of the ball but also the dysfunction inside the Cowboys’ organization. However, Hatcher is one of the best defensive tackles in football. On the year, he has a forced fumble to go along with a monstrous 9 sacks. That is a lot from the interior of the defensive line, especially when one considers that Dallas still has 4 games remaining. Defensive tackles haven’t given the Bears too many problems this year, but Hatcher has game-breaking ability.
Dez Bryant- Everyone thinks that they know that Dez Bryant is combustible, whiny, and selfish, but the fact of the matter is that he is one of the league’s best wideouts. In 2011, Bryant almost got to 1,000 yards in just his second year, and last year, he caught 92 passes for almost 1,400 yards. This year, he will definitely get past 1,000 again. On the season, Bryant has 9 touchdowns and 896 yards. I would guess that he has a great shot to surpass 1,000 yards tonight. In this weather though, watch out for Bryant’s ongoing back problems to maybe strike. They have lingered throughout this year.
Jeremiah Ratliff- The Jeremiah Ratliff-Dallas Cowboys saga is a strange one, but this is all one needs to know: when Ratliff was released and free to sign anywhere, he met with Julius Peppers and Jay Cutler, and they talked him into signing in Chicago because of the chance for the postseason and the opportunity to play the Cowboys. This past week, the Cowboys refused to really comment on it, and Ratliff played it off calling it just another game. Make no mistake about it: this game means a lot to Ratliff, and with DeMarco Murray running the ball for Dallas, Ratliff has to build off of what was a solid performance in Minnesota and have a great game for the Bears to make the Cowboys a one-dimensional offense. If not, Murray will blow through the Bears’ defensive line like every back has done this year.
The playoff chances for the Bears seem slim, but there is still a chance if they win 3 or 4 of their final 4 games. Detroit continues to choke away their best chance of a division championship in 22 years, and with their loss yesterday in Philadelphia, it opens the door for the Bears. Unfortunately, Chicago’s defense is battered and, for the most part, untalented. Dallas, meanwhile, has a bad defense as well but Tony Romo is playing some of his best football. His career record in December is 11-15, but this year, it just feels different for Romo and the rest of his team. The Cowboys are used to these elements, playing in New York, Washington and Philadelphia annually. The Cowboys will score, but the Bears will score more. Chicago needs this game. This may be Josh McCown’s last chance to impress his current coaches and front offices around the league before he hits free agency in March. Bears 34-30. (7-5 on the year)
-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)