Betting the NFL: Cowboys At Chicago

The Bears are in trouble. 6-6 on the season after losses to St. Louis and Minnesota, Chicago may have to win out to get a playoff spot. 9-7 on the year won’t get them past Detroit, since the Lions have the tie-breaker. A 3-6 NFC record means they won’t win any wild-card tie-breakers either.

So tonight’s game against the Cowboys is vital. The Cowboys have playoff worries of their own. However, they do control their own destiny. Assuming things hold to form, the season finale against Philadelphia will determine the NFC East winner. The loser will get a wild-card berth.

The Cowboys have one of the best spread records in the league. They’ve been solid as visitors (4-2 ATS) and great as underdogs (5-1 ATS). The Bears, on the other hand, have busted bankrolls all season. They are 2-10 against the spread so far this year.

Chicago will again be without starting quarterback Jay Cutler, out with a high-ankle sprain. Josh McCown will run the show for Chicago. He has been solid this year; Chicago’s main problems have been on defense. The Bears have given up at least 200 yards rushing in their last two games, and have allowed a league-worst five yards per carry. Dallas set season-highs in yards (144) and carries (30) in their Thanksgiving Day win vs. Oakland, and will be led again by a healthy DeMarco Murray (697 yards, 4.9 yards per carry).

Dallas opened as one point favorites last Sunday night, took action at that price and was up to -2.5 by Monday. Chicago money came in, pushing the game back to pick. It is now at Chicago -1. Totals have been bet downward from opening numbers of 49 and 49.5. On Monday morning, it is now 47.5.

Chicago’s offense has not missed a beat with McCown, who has thrown for 1,461 yards and nine touchdowns with just one interception. The Bears’ passing game should be able to take advantage of a Dallas defense allowing the second-most passing yards per game (294.9). Bears wideouts Alshon Jeffery (70 catches, 1,109 yards, five TDs) and Brandon Marshall (78 catches, 990 yards, nine TDs) are big, athletic targets with major playmaking ability. Tight end Martellus Bennett (48 catches, 545 yards, five TDs) and running back Matt Forte (58 catches, 445 yards, one TD) are McCown’s other main targets.

Weather might be a factor, however. The temperature is expected to drop to 10 degrees in Chicago on Monday night with winds at 17 mph and a 30 percent chance of snow.