2012 NFL Picks: Chicago Bears @ Dallas Cowboys Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free NFL Picks 10/1/2012: Two of the most beloved NFL franchises will battle it out on Monday Night Football when the Chicago Bears (2-1) go on the road to face the Dallas Cowboys (2-1). Both teams have playoff aspirations and the talent to reach the postseason, but both play in tough divisions, as well. Throw in the fact that both sides are undergoing changes to their offensive philosophies from years past, and we end up with a very interesting matchup on our hands. Playing at home, the Cowboys are three-point favorites in this one.
Through the first three weeks of the season, it is tough to look at either team’s resume and pick a clear favorite in Monday’s matchup. Dallas did score a big win against the defending champion Giants in the opener but followed it up with an ugly loss to Seattle and an ugly win against Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Chicago beat up on Indianapolis and St. Louis but didn’t put up much of a fight in a loss to Green Bay. The Cowboys definitely have the signature win between the two, but this matchup is a chance for both teams to make a statement against another playoff-caliber opponent.
With Jay Cutler under center for the Bears and Tony Romo running the show for the Cowboys’ offense, there should be plenty of passes to go around. However, that doesn’t mean there will be a lot of points scored. Outside of a 41-point effort from Chicago against the Colts, neither offense has been all that impressive in 2012. In fact, Chicago currently ranks 28th in the NFL in passing yards. Dallas’ passing attack doesn’t crack the top 10 either, and neither team has a consistent running game to fall back on. Now, throw in the fact that Chicago’s defense ranks sixth against both the run and the pass while Dallas has the second-best pass defense and top-rated unit in terms of yards allowed, and a low-scoring, grinding pace could be on tap Monday.
The biggest issue facing both offenses is poor offensive line play. Both teams knew the area was a potential trouble spot entering the year, but I’m not sure either side expected things to be as bad as they have been. In Dallas’ loss to the Seahawks, Romo was pressured all game, getting sacked four times. Cutler faced a similar onslaught in Chicago’s loss to the Packers, getting sacked seven times. With Cowboys’ sack master DeMarcus Ware leading the hunt for Cutler and Julius Peppers playing the same role in the Bears’ attack on Romo, both QBs could find themselves facing a lot of heat once again.
In the end, the QB that best handles the pressure and avoids critical mistakes is probably going to lead his team to the win, and Romo and the Cowboys should have a leg up. After all, Cutler has six interceptions compared to only three touchdowns this season, and he has had at least one turnover in all three games. Four of those interceptions came against Green Bay as he made mistake after mistake in the face of the Packers’ pass rush. Ware and the Cowboys can put similar heat on opposing QBs, and the rebuilt Dallas secondary led by Brandon Carr and first-round pick Morris Claiborne has been fantastic. For as much flack as Romo has taken over the years for poor decisions, Cutler has been even worse. In what should be mainly a defensive battle, Cutler’s risky mentality is going to burn the Bears. It won’t be pretty for either team, but much like last weekend when the Cowboys grinded out a 16-10 win against the Buccaneers, Romo and company should come up with a similar performance against the turnover-prone Cutler Monday night.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys (-3) Cover the Spread
Chicago Bears @ Dallas Cowboys
Line: Dallas -3
Total: Over/Under 41.5
Time: 8:30 PM EST on ESPN
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