Cowboys Host Bears On Monday Night Football

By: Michael Robinson | Friday, September 28, 2012

INJURY UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Spencer (pectoral) not expected to play tonight while Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte (ankle) is upgraded to probable.

The Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears meet on Monday Night Football in a matchup of two of the most scrutinized quarterbacks in the league. ESPN will broadcast at 8:30 p.m. (ET) from Cowboys Stadium.

Dallas is a 3-3½ point favorite on the Don Best Pro Odds. The real movement has been on the total where it is down to 41½-42 after starting at 45.

Chicago (2-1 straight up and against the spread) is tied for the NFC Central lead with Minnesota and should have sent a gift to the replacement referee who robbed division rival Green Bay of a win at Seattle last Monday.

The Bears had suffered an embarrassing loss (23-10) at Green Bay on September 13. Quarterback Jay Cutler threw four picks after trash talking earlier in the week and then caused a locker room controversy by pushing one of his offensive linemen during the game.

Cutler has been accused of having a ‘million dollar arm and 10 cent head.’ His quarterback rating (58.6) is now ranked 31st after the Green Bay debacle and a mediocre performance (17-of-31 for 183 yards, no TDs and one pick) at St. Louis last week.

Chicago won the St. Louis game 23-6 thanks to the defense allowing just 160 total yards and having a pick-six in the fourth quarter. The ‘D’ has been solid overall this year at 279 YPG (ranked sixth) and 16.7 PPG (ranked fifth).

Coach Lovie Smith knows the offense needs to be a lot better on Monday. The problem is that running back Michael Bush (shoulder) is playing banged up and Matt Forte (ankle) is doubtful. Keep checking the injury report for the latest on both players.

The streaky Cutler has the ability to pass on any defense, but Dallas is second in the NFL in passing yards allowed (137 YPG). Pass protection is also a big issue against DeMarcus Ware and company, with the Bears surrendering 11 sacks so far.

The Cowboys (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) started out the season with a bang, a 24-17 win at the Giants on a Wednesday night. They then had a horrible performance at Seattle (27-7 loss) before surviving against Tampa Bay (16-10) in the home opener last week.

The ‘under’ is 3-0 for Dallas on the season and 6-0 in its last six overall.

Quarterback Tony Romo (89.3 rating, ranked 14th) has better stats than Cutler, but has thrown an interception in each of the first three games and his decision-making is always a question. Romo hasn’t got a lot of help from his offensive line (seven sacks) and normally reliable tight end Jason Witten has several drops.

Dallas would love to get DeMarco Murray back untracked. He had 131 rushing yards in the opener vs. the Giants, but just 82 the last two weeks combined. Chicago has a good run defense and should bottle Murray up pretty good. The same goes for Dallas’ run defense against Bush (assuming Forte is out).

That means this game could come down to the respective offensive lines and which quarterback gets more time and can make big plays without turnovers. The favorable lean is towards Romo.

Some more betting trends to consider: These teams have had far different success on MNF. Chicago is 4-1 ATS in its last five and Dallas 1-6 ATS in its last seven. 

These squads haven’t met very often with the last two in 2010 and 2007. The road team won both outright as underdogs and each going ‘over’ the total.

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