After clawing their way back to .500, the Bears will take on the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field for a little Thursday Night Football action. They will also don their 100th anniversary 1936 throwback uniforms for the 2nd and final time this season. The last matchup between these two historic franchises took place in 2016 and resulted in a 31-17 Cowboys victory. Despite having a losing record, the Cowboys sit atop the NFC East at 6-7. Meanwhile, the Bears will need to essentially win out and receive a boatload of help in order to earn the last wildcard spot in the NFC. With Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on the hot seat and the Bears fighting for their season, both teams are desperately looking to get into the win column.

Offensively, the Bears will look to build off of last week’s success as they will take on a Cowboys defense that is currently ranked 8th in pass defense (215.2 yards per game) and 16th in rush defense (106.4 yards per game). While former Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has put together a solid unit this season, the Cowboys have struggled to turn the ball over having only registered 12 takeaways on the season (4 interceptions, 8 fumble recoveries). Dallas will also be without 3 key defensive starters in star LB Leighton Vander Esch, DT Antwaun Woods and S Jeff Heath. 

When asked on his points of emphasis for Trubisky and the offense this week, Bears coach Matt Nagy said, “For us right now, with Mitch and for the offense is just continue to do what we feel like we’ve been doing the last couple weeks which is just taking it play by play and staying ahead of the chains.” 

One player the Bears should continue to feature is wide receiver Anthony Miller, who hauled in 9 receptions for 140 yards on Thanksgiving. Miller routinely dusted Lions nickel corner Justin Coleman, whom Detroit signed to a 3 year, 36 million dollar deal this past offseason. In his last 3 games, Miller has caught 21 passes on 33 targets for 271 yards. With Miller establishing himself as a legitimate threat in the Bears passing game alongside Allen Robinson, a big time performance could be the evidence fans need to see that the offense is finally turning the corner.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears will be tasked with slowing down the top offense in the league this season. The Cowboys currently lead the league in passing yards per game (305.2) and are 8th in rushing yards (127.6). On the verge of signing a massive contract extension, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is poised to set new career highs across the board this season. Under the tutelage of young offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Prescott has been able to sling the pigskin around the yard to stud WRs such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Based off the numbers, this will be the toughest matchup the Bears’ defense has faced thus far in 2019. 

While the Bears’ defense hasn’t produced on the same level it did in 2018, they are still looking at a relatively successful season in 2019. Injuries have hurt them as team leaders Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan have missed time with dislocated elbows. The team will also likely be without starting CB Prince Amukamara as he is fighting through a hamstring injury. The Bears have needed somebody to step up and after going through some personal issues early on in the season, 2nd year star LB Roquan Smith has started to come into his own as an on the field leader.

When asked to reflect on Smith’s development over the past month, Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano responded, “He’s played at a high level. Obviously, you know, he’s playing really good for us. He’s making plays, he’s directing traffic. With Danny out of there he’s had to take on more of the communication stuff.” 

The Bears will need Smith and the rest of their front 7 to be at their best on Thursday in order to slow down Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys run game on a frigid lakefront night. 

Prediction: This past week on the Halas Hall Brawl, I told the audience that I thought the Bears could win this game and I still do. However, the Cowboys hold one of the strongest offensive lines in all of football. Early on in the season, the Bears struggled mightily with bigger, more physical linemen such as those on the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders. Both Josh Jacobs and Latavius Murray ran the Bears ragged in those matchups and neither is on the level that Ezekiel Elliott is quite yet. On the offensive side of the ball, last week against the Lions was an awesome step forward for Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense but the Cowboys defense pose a much more difficult challenge. If Tru and the rest of the offense can rise to the occasion, the Bears will feel all the way back. However, I can’t pick the Bears in good conscious to win this game based off of their showing against a Detroit Lions team that lost to the Washington Redskins just a week before. Final Score: Cowboys 17, Bears 13. 

The Bears (6-6) will take on the Cowboys (6-7) at 7:20 PM CST Thursday, December 5th at Soldier Field. Per Pro Football Reference, the Cowboys currently lead the all-time series, 13-11.