Bears-Cowboys NFL Week 8 Game: 3 Keys for Win and Score Prediction

Bears-Cowboys NFL Week 8 Game: 3 Keys for Win and Score Prediction

Updated: 1 month, 16 hours, 15 minutes, 48 seconds ago

3 keys for Bears to beat Cowboysscore prediction originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears pulled off their biggest upset of the season last week, and in dominant fashion too, when they bested the Patriots 33-14 in New England on Monday Night Football. Despite the big win, the Bears find themselves as double-digit underdogs again (at least at the time of publication) for their date with the Cowboys in Arlington. It will be tough for the Bears to shock the NFL for a second week in a row, but if they can execute on these three keys, they’ll give themselves a chance to win.

STUFF TONY POLLARD WITH EZEKIEL ELLIOTT DOUBTFUL TO PLAY

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The Bears may have less on their plate than normal when taking on the Cowboys, since Zeke Elliott is officially doubtful with a knee injury. Elliott is not the electric running back he was a few years back, but he’s still effective as a power runner and is a threat to score near the goal line. He and Tony Pollard have been a dynamic one-two punch for the Cowboys, too. The team can’t breathe easy if it’s only Pollard leading the way, however. His 5.6 YPC average has outpaced Elliott’s 4.1 average, and Pollard brings an extra dimension as a pass catcher. Elliott has only caught six passes for 32 yards this year, on a 61% snap share. Pollard has 11 catches for 105 yards on a 47% snap share. If Elliott doesn’t play, there’s a chance the Cowboys dial up more passes out of the backfield and the Bears will have to be aware.

HAVE A PLAN FOR MICAH PARSONS ON EVERY SINGLE SNAP

Micah Parsons is one of those guys who can be a game-wrecker. He leads the NFL with 36 pressures. He’s second in the league with eight sacks. A variety of things go into Parsons’ success. First, he has a superlative mix of quickness and raw strength. “He can beat you to the punch,” said Matt Eberflus. Second, he has unique positional versatility that makes him a fun chess piece for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Parsons will line up all over the field at various points of the game to probe different areas of an opponent’s protection scheme, and he can attack from all the positions equally well. The Bears will need to clearly communicate exactly where Parsons is and who’s responsible for picking him up on every play, or he will harass Justin Fields.

BUT DON’T FOCUS TOO MUCH ON PARSONS

Parsons gets all the hype on the Cowboys defense, and deservedly so, but he’s only one piece of their league-leading pass rush. In fact if you subtract Parsons’ eight sacks, the 21 remaining Cowboys sacks would still rank fifth in the NFL. Defensive ends Demarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. all have at least three sacks. So does safety Donovan Wilson. Now consider the following: Justin Fields has been sacked a league-leading 27 times, and has been pressured on 50% of his dropbacks, which also leads all QBs with a minimum of 100 dropbacks. The Bears offensive line will also be without three of its starters, in Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick and Larry Borom. Looking at the big picture, it looks like Fields could be in trouble, but Getsy is able to devise another scheme to protect Fields with moving pockets and designed runs like he did against the Patriots, it can help take the pressure off the front five.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION

The Bears have been competitive all season, but the Cowboys have looked like one of the best teams in the NFC, even when Dak Prescott was out. Dak is back, and the Cowboys will probably be too much for the Bears to handle, although they’ll keep it close.

Cowboys: 24, Bears: 17

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