The Chicago Bears travel to North Texas to face the Dallas Cowboys for Week 8. Dallas has rolled to a 5-2 record on the strength of one of the most fearsome defensive units in decades, while the 3-4 Bears are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. A win is important for both teams to stay competitive in their respective divisions.
The Cowboys finally got quarterback Dak Prescott back on the field last week and got the offense functioning to the tune of a 24-6 domination of the Detroit Lions. Dallas struggled early on offense, but found a rhythm in the second half, buoyed by an impressive five-takeaway performance from the defense.
The Cowboys’ defense will face one of its biggest challenges of the season in stopping the Bears’ rushing attack that dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields leads. Fields had over 80 yards rushing in the last two games, including his first rushing touchdown of the season. Fields also completed 13-of-21 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in the Bears’ 33-14 victory over the New England Patriots.
In addition to keeping a wrap on Fields, the Cowboys’ defense will need to compensate for running backs Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery. The backs combine for a persistent threat between the tackles and around the edges. Herbert and Montgomery each recorded 62 yards against New England, with Montgomery scoring a rushing touchdown. Herbert had only his second reception of the season last week, going 25 yards for a touchdown.
The Cowboys’ defense will need to shift focus early to shut down the run, a task that the unit has been less than stellar at so far this season. There is a good chance the defense will see Johnathan Hankins for the first time after the run-stopping tackle was acquired in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The defense might be a step off this week for Dallas as linebacker Micah Parsons has been dealing with a shoulder injury and is listed as questionable for the game. Without Parsons, the defense is still rangy and dangerous. Dorance Armstrong, Demarcus Lawrence, and Leighton Vander Esch can get through the line on pass plays and take down quarterbacks when Parsons is not on the field.
The biggest question mark for Dallas in this game will be how well the offense can move the ball. Though not officially ruled out, running back Ezekiel Elliott was held out of practice this week with a knee strain and a leg contusion. The Cowboys on Saturday elevated back Malik Davis to the active roster in a sign that Elliott is more likely than not to sit the game out.
Tony Pollard has emerged as a true threat whenever he touches the ball. Capable of breaking a big play from the backfield or downfield, Pollard will likely get his first career opportunity to line up as RB1 and could get the majority of carries in the game.
The Bears’ defense has performed well beyond the team’s record, giving up only five touchdown passes and recording eight interceptions, but has allowed 10 rushing touchdowns, the third-worst number in the NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears will kick off from AT&T Stadium at noon on October 30.