Thursday Night Football: Week 14 Preview, DAL at CHI

We have a solid matchup for Thursday Night Football tonight on FOX. The Week 14 edition of Thursday Night Football has some playoff implications, especially for the road team.

Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears

Soldier Field

Chicago, IL

Betting

As a home underdog, the Bears have been fairly good against the spread. But, I don’t like the Bears chances. Their offense is too inconsistent, so much so that their stout defense simply cannot win games for them single-handedly. That being said, the Cowboys can’t be good teams. Are the Bears a good team? Well, they have the same record as “Dem Boyz” and are able to keep teams from scoring with ease. Personally, I don’t feel that is enough to get them the outright victory, but the spread of +3.0 (EVEN) is intriguing. I also like the action on the UNDER at a mark of 43.0 (-110). Neither offense has been explosive as of late, or in the Bears case… all season, which points to this game being low-scoring.

I do a lot of my own handicapping when I offer my betting takes to everyone, but that doesn’t mean I don’t tail/fade some of the more popular personalities. For instance, Joe Osborne (@JTFOz) of Oddsshark mentioned on the Guys and Bets Podcast that he likes a 6-point teaser on the UNDER and Bears Spread. That would make the bet UNDER 49.0 and Bears +9.0 for varying payouts depending on your book.

Injuries

The impact players for the Bears that will miss tonight’s game include the following: WR Taylor Gabriel, TE Ben Braunecker, RT Bobby Massie, and LB Danny Trevathan. Also of note, CB Prince Amukamara is doubtful to play which could open up some room on the outside for the Cowboys receivers. 

So obviously, DT Antwaun Woods won’t be playing on Thursday Night Football. Thankfully, the Cowboys have plenty of depth up front that can attempt to fill his role. Other guys that are listed as OUT for tonight’s game include LB Leighton Vander Esch and S Jeff Heath. Another name to monitor will be RB Tony Pollard. If Pollard sits, Ezekiel Elliott will be spelled by FB Jamize Olawale or even WR Tavon Austin (barring a late practice squad addition in the form of OSU RB product, Mike Weber).

Bears Offense vs. Cowboys Defense

With one of the worst offenses in all of football, the Chicago Bears may have finally realized that they need to get the ball out of Mitchell Trubisky’s hands. Rookie RB David Montgomery looked like the guy draft scouts fell in love with last spring once the Bears decided to give him ~20 touches. With that, Trubisky was able to run more effective play-action plays and find Allen Robinson / Anthony Miller while on the move. This is where Trubisky is most effective, rolling out of the pocket. Even though he seems scared to scramble, which is odd because he was more of a dual-threat coming out of UNC, teams crash the line of scrimmage to prevent an easy 5-yard QB run. Unfortunately for Trubisky, he has to face an outstanding Cowboys front-7.

Mitchell Trubisky for Thursday Night Football in Week 14
Mitchell Trubisky via Cameron Good

Even with Antwaun Woods and Leighten Vander Esch missing Thursday Night Football, the rest of big ‘boyz up front should have no problem eviscerating a poor Bears O-line. Something we should keep an eye on tonight will be the defensive back play for the Cowboys. With only 4 INT’s as a team this season, the Cowboys are relying on the aforementioned front-7 to force fumbles in order to create turnovers. But, the wild accuracy of Trubisky that leaves us at home scratching our heads could mean the Cowboys increase their INT totals tonight.

Cowboys Offense vs. Bears Defense

The Cowboys offense is so difficult to get a grasp of on a week-to-week basis. One day they look unstoppable, the next day, we might question if the other 3 NFC East teams are more reliable. And that’s saying something in a division that includes Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones. The one thing the Cowboys can count on is Dak Prescott performing like he’s the best player on the field. Previously, that title was reserved for Ezekiel Elliott, but Dak has balled out in his contract-year. Looking to lock up what could be the biggest contract in NFL history, Dak is doing everything he can to keep the Cowboys competitive.

Dak Prescott for Thursday Night Football in Week 14
Dak Prescott via Keith Allison

It helps that he has guys like Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup making plays for him. Zeke had a rough start to the season but is now getting his 20+ touches a game which can only mean good things for this offense. As for Cooper and Gallup, some would argue they’re the best 1-2 punch receiving core in the NFL. Cooper is an elite talent that is hard to come by and Gallup has emerged as one of the best down-field targets in all of football. Combine all of that with a finally 100% healthy O-line and “Dem Boyz” are looking ‘noice’.

But tonight, they line up against… DA BEARS. Oh, don’tcha know bout da Bears defense? ‘Dey got dat Khalil Mack fellow dat takes down the mustache man in Green Bay! Oh yeah, he and Roquan Smith can deliver some pop! But, pop as in what Coach Ditka used to do, not da stuff we get from da Shopko. Let me tell ya somethin’, we force more turnovers than dat bum Jay Cutler use to do back in da dark times. 

I think the Bears defense will make it difficult for Zeke to find running room tonight and may even force a fumble or two.

Predictions

Cowboys: 21

Bears: 14

Guaranteed Touchdown Scorer: Ezekiel Elliott

Dart Throw Touchdown Scorer: Jesper Horstead

Better Fantasy QB: Dak Prescott. Dak is the 2nd best fantasy QB in all of football.

Best Fantasy RB: Ezekiel Elliott. Even in a tough matchup, Zeke will get his touches.

Best Fantasy WR: Anthony Miller. Flying a bit under the radar, Miller has had at least 6 catches in each of his last 6 games and is excellent value compared to Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Allen Robinson.

Better Fantasy TE: Jason Witten. Look, TE is horrendous in this game. Witten is going to get the most catches of the group but Jesper Horstead is more likely to find paydirt.

Better Fantasy D/ST: Cowboys. Although the Bears defense is better in general, Trubisky has been hit or miss as a QB.

Conclusion

Who do you think wins tonight on Thursday Night Football? Will the Cowboys pull out the victory in a must-win game? Let me know in the comments below! Also, check out the shop and other content by clicking here.

-Mitchell Seefeldt

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