The Week 4 edition of Monday Night Football comes live from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as the Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 1-0 home) host the Chicago Bears (2-1, 0-1 road).
Both teams have had somewhat tepid starts to the season and will be looking for a victory to really kick start the season. For bettors, the matchup presents an intriguing clash of two teams difficult to separate.
For Dallas and Chicago, the 2012 season has brought much comparison. In terms of record, the two are even whilst both feature quarterbacks under the microscope and teams that have yet to really set out a stall.
In Week 1, Dallas upset the New York Giants, earning a 24-17 victory on the opening Wednesday of the season. Chicago opened its season with a win over the Indianapolis Colts and the debuting Andrew Luck.
In Week 2, Dallas was upset by Seattle. Not only were the Cowboys upset, they were embarrassed, succumbing to a 27-7 loss. Meanwhile, Chicago lost its Thursday Night Football showdown with the Green Bay Packers, effectively being played off the field.
In Week 3, Dallas manufactured a tough 16-10 win over Tampa Bay on what was essentially an impressive defensive outing. Chicago defeated St. Louis 23-6 but didn’t look as dominant as the scoreline would suggest.
Now the two teams meet on Monday night, both considered underachievers despite winning records.
The game figures to be a defensive battle with both teams ranking inside the NFL’s top five defenses. Dallas leads the league only giving up 250 yards per game, while Chicago has limited opponents to 279 yards (5th).
The Cowboys have been particularly effective against the pass, conceding just 137 yards per game. Chicago is more effective against the run, conceding just 76 yards on the ground compared to the Cowboys’ 113.
That’s bad news for DeMarco Murray (DAL), who has been stifled the past two games after beating the 100-yard mark against New York in Week 1. It could be good news for Michael Bush (CHI) who has had an impressive start to the season. Matt Forte (CHI) is listed as questionable with an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s game against St. Louis.
Offensively, both teams have been somewhat limited. Dallas is averaging 342 yards (19th) while Chicago is averaging 290 (26th). Neither team will be particularly happy with those numbers. Alarmingly, the Cowboys are only averaging 15.7 points per game, an anemic number that would suggest the team should be worse off than 2-1. That’s another reason to expect a defensive affair on Monday night.
Looking for an Edge
Dallas leads Chicago 13-9 in all-time in head-to-head contests, including two playoff victories. Dallas has won five of the last eight meetings, but the Bears took a 27-20 win in the last meeting (September 2010) between the pair.
The spread for this game opened at three (in favor of the Cowboys) and has extended to 3½. Bettors looking for an edge might want to consider the following: Dallas is 1-2 ATS this season including 0-1 at home and 0-2 as favorites. Advantage Bears? Maybe not. Chicago is 2-1 ATS this season but is 0-1 away and 0-1 as underdog. Something has to give.
The total has gone under in the Cowboys’ last five games, so the smart money is on taking the under on 42½ points. Bettors in the know have already seen that figure drop from 45 at opening.
As to who is likely to come out on top of this one, it’s really anybody’s pick. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine either side coming out with the win. Even if Chicago were to pull off an upset win, would it be all that much of an upset? Not really.
Ultimately, for players, coaches, fans and bettors alike, the one outcome everybody’s looking to avoid is another controversial finish like last Monday night.