When the Dallas Cowboys host the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football," there's one thing that the NFL, its players and its fans can be sure of: The ending of the game won't be as controversial as last week.
The Cowboys and Bears have both suffered from inconsistency this season, stemming mostly from their franchise quarterbacks.
In the Bears' two wins, one against the Indianapolis Colts and the other against the St. Louis Rams, Jay Cutler has 516 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions. In a 23-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers, however, Cutler was 11-of-27 for 126 yards, with one touchdown and four picks.
Behind a shaky offensive line that has allowed 11 sacks in those three games, Cutler has a Total QBR of just 31.4, which ranks 30th in the NFL. Having running back Matt Forte, who is questionable with an ankle injury, for the MNF game would greatly improve the Bears' chances. He gives them a home run threat in the backfield that balances their offensive attack.
Then there's the Cowboys' Tony Romo (QBR: 58.3; 18th in the NFL), who has played better than Cutler this season -- and against better opposition. But Romo struggled against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, and he'll face another elite defense on Monday night. Coming into Week 4, the Cowboys were tied with the Philadelphia Eagles with an NFL-worst 47 points scored in three games.The Bears' opportunistic D already has nine takeaways (six INTs, three fumbles) this season.
According to Football Outsiders' metrics, Chicago's defense is terrific at defending No. 1 and No. 2 receivers, ranking first and third, respectively. However, the Bears rank just 15th against No. 3 wideouts. With Chicago possessing the No. 1 overall pass defense in the NFL, the Cowboys could have trouble moving the ball through the air against the Bears.
The Bears are 2-1 against the spread (ATS) this year, with both straight up and ATS wins coming at home. The Cowboys are 1-2 ATS, losing a classic backdoor cover to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. So far, according to ESPN Insider's PickCenter, 55.8 percent of the public is taking the Cowboys.
The regular referees were back on Sunday, but favored teams still had a tough time, going 6-8 overall (depending on when you got the Philly line) after the Eagles beat the New York Giants 19-17 on Sunday night. Overall on the season, underdogs are covering at an impressive 58 percent clip (36-25-1). That means plenty of people will be chasing on Monday night.
Below is analysis of the line and total from bookmaker Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hotel, and a pick on the spread from handicapper Geoff Kulesa, aka Wunderdog.
Matchup: Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys
Spread: Opened at Cowboys minus-3, now at Cowboys minus-3.5
Total: Opened at 42.5, now 41.5