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'Boys, Bears clash on MNF

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Dallas Cowboys (7-5) at Chicago Bears (6-6)

Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Dallas -1.5, Total: 48
Opening Line & Total: Cowboys -2 & 49.5

The Cowboys set their sights on the NFC East crown while the Bears try to keep their playoff hopes alive when the teams collide on Monday night.

Dallas defeated the Raiders 31-24 on Thanksgiving Day despite being down two touchdowns late in the second quarter. Chicago was saddled with a 23-20 road loss against the Vikings in overtime, making the team 2-4 SU (1-5 ATS) in its past six games.

The Bears have yet to cover a spread at home this year (0-5-1 ATS), while the Cowboys are 2-4 SU on the road, but a solid 4-2 ATS. These teams last met in Dallas last season where Chicago won 34-18 as a 3-point underdog, picking off Tony Romo five times in the victory. That made this series an even 5-5 split (SU and ATS) in the past 10 meetings.

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Both clubs have negative betting trends working against them.

The Cowboys are 10-23 ATS (30%) in road games after outrushing their opponent by 75+ yards in their previous game since 1992. But over the past two seasons, Chicago is 2-11 ATS (15%) in games where the line is +3 to -3.

The big injury story in this game is Bears starting QB Jay Cutler (ankle) who is out, while the Cowboys will get a huge boost with top LB Sean Lee (hamstring) set to return after missing the past two games. The Cowboys appeared to be in trouble against the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day before QB Tony Romo (3,140 passing yards, 7.1 YPA, 24 TD, 7 INT) began to throw all over the Oakland defense. Romo went 23-of-32 for 225 yards and a touchdown, and constantly had the Cowboys in the red zone in the second half.

RB DeMarco Murray (697 rush yards, 4.9 YPC, 7 TD) was able to cash in on those opportunities as he rushed for 63 yards and three touchdowns. Backup RB Lance Dunbar (150 rush yards, 5.0 YPC) also rushed 12 times for 82 yards before being injured (knee) and lost for the season. This was a welcomed change from the pass-happy attack Dallas has shown all year, where the team ranks 15th in the NFL in passing yards (243 YPG) and 27th in rushing offense (85 YPG). The Cowboys offense has still be able to find ways to score though, with 27.4 PPG this season (3rd in NFL).

They will need to step their defense up, however, as they are allowing a league-worst 422 total YPG, broken down between 295 passing YPG (2nd-worst in NFL) and 127 rushing YPG (27th in NFL). Dallas also ranks 28th in the league in red zone efficiency (62% TD rate) and 27th in third-down defense (41% efficiency). The return of LB Sean Lee should immediately help the struggling defense get on track.

Chicago lost a heart-breaker in Minnesota last week that could’ve really gone a long way in helping the club make the playoffs.

The Bears should be fine with Josh McCown playing excellent football for Chicago. He has thrown for 1,461 yards (7.9 YPA) this season with nine touchdowns and just one interception.

He also has two exceptional receivers in WRs Brandon Marshall (990 rec. yards, 9 TD) and Alshon Jeffery (1,109 rec. yards, 5 TD), who is coming off a mammoth 249-yard performance with 2 TD in Minnesota. The Bears are passing for 272 YPG (6th in NFL) while allowing just 232 passing YPG (14th in NFL).

Their big problem, however, comes stopping the run. They have allowed an NFL-worst 154 rushing YPG on 5.0 YPC, but the red-zone defense has been pretty good (50%, T-10th in NFL). Despite this efficiency, Chicago is still allowing 27.7 PPG (5th-most in league).

RB Matt Forte will need to have an effective game for the Bears to come away with this one. He has been one of the best running backs in football this season with 971 rushing yards (4.5 YPC) and seven touchdowns. He has also added 58 receptions for 445 yards and a touchdown in the passing game.

  
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