It could be a long NFL season in the city of Chicago as the Bears are one of eight winless teams entering Week 3, and they could be without starting quarterback Jay Cutler for at least Sunday night’s game in Dallas. Also working against Chicago is the fact it’s on a short week off Monday night’s embarrassing home loss. The Cowboys are one of the strongest Week 3 favourites on Sports Interaction’s NFL odds.
Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys
Point spread: Cowboys -7.5
Date: Sunday, Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
The Bears were 6-10 last year so it’s not like even their most optimistic fans had Super Bowl aspirations in 2016. But head coach John Fox’s two previous teams, Carolina and Denver, both took a giant step forward in Year 2 under him and reached the playoffs. That’s not looking likely for Chicago as since the NFL expanded and realigned in 2002, just 12 of 116 teams to start 0-2 made the playoffs. Monday marked the 20th time the Bears have started a season 0-2. They missed the playoffs in the previous 19.
Chicago played well for 30 minutes Week 1 in Houston in leading 14-10 at halftime, but the offense has done next to nothing since. The Bears were shut out in the second half by the Texans, and in Monday’s 29-14 loss to the Eagles, the lone offensive score was a 1-yard TD run by Jeremy Langford early in the second quarter to give Chicago its only lead at 7-3.
Cutler lost a fumble and threw a third-quarter interception right to Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham. Cutler was favoring his right hand/thumb and left for the locker room after that pick and didn’t return. The Bears are calling it a thumb sprain, but it could require surgery at some point. There have been other reports there is ligament damage. The Bears are calling Cutler day-to-day, but it would be a minor upset if backup Brian Hoyer doesn’t start in Dallas. Cutler started all 16 games in his first year in Chicago in 2009 but has missed at least one game per season since.
The Chicago defense was ravaged by injuries in Monday’s loss as the team’s best lineman, tackle Eddie Goldman, will miss four weeks with a high-ankle sprain. Inside linebacker Danny Trevathan will miss several weeks because he injured his thumb and needs surgery. Outside linebacker Lamarr Houston is done for the year with a torn ACL.
The Bears have failed to cover their past six September games.
Dallas might be 2-0 if receiver Terrance Williams hadn’t stupidly stayed inbounds at the end of the Cowboys’ Week 1 20-19 home loss to the Giants. If Williams gets out of bounds, and he could have, Dallas would have had a field-goal attempt to win the game — and the Cowboys have one of the NFL’s top kickers in Dan Bailey. Last Sunday, Dallas won in Washington 27-23 for only its second victory in the past 16 games without injured starting quarterback Tony Romo. The Redskins were seemingly in control of that game in the fourth quarter, up 23-20 and with third-and-goal at the 6. But Washington QB Kirk Cousins threw a puzzling pass right to Cowboys linebacker Barry Church in the end zone.
The Cowboys went 80 yards on the next drive for what would prove to be the winning touchdown, a 4-yard run by backup running back Alfred Morris. He was in the game because rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott had fumbled twice earlier and been benched. Elliott had a good game otherwise with 21 carries for 83 yards and a TD.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott — a guy the quarterback-needy Bears passed on three times in the fourth round of the 2016 draft before Dallas snapped him up at No. 135 overall — threw for 292 yards without a turnover and rushed for a score. Prescott has thrown more passes without an interception in his first two games (75) than any other player in NFL history, passing Warren Moon (72 in 1984).
Bears vs. Cowboys Prediction
Chicago has had good luck at AT&T Stadium in winning both all-time trips, but these current Bears are a mess. That said, I wouldn’t give 7.5 points. Take Dallas at the alternate NFL line of -6.5 (-116) and go under the total. The Bears are 1-6 ATS in their past seven games. The under is 5-2 in the Cowboys’ past seven games.