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MNF - Cowboys at Bears

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The Bears and Cowboys are both within reach of gaining first place in their respective divisions with just four games left in the regular season. Dallas visits Chicago on Monday night as each squad is fighting for an opportunity just to get in the playoffs, as the division championship route may be the only viable option.

Jay Cutler remains out for the Bears as the quarterback missed his third straight game with an ankle injury last Sunday. Chicago squandered a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter of an overtime defeat at Minnesota, 23-20. Robbie Gould missed a 47-yard field goal in overtime to win it for Chicago, as the Bears lost in spite of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery hauling in 249 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears dropped their third game in four tries, but Chicago can tie Detroit for first place in the NFC North with a victory on Monday.

The Cowboys won their second straight contest after rallying past the Raiders on Thanksgiving, 31-24. Dallas failed to cover as 10-point home favorites, as DeMarco Murray found the end zone three times for the Cowboys in the victory. Since losing that shootout to Denver back in Week 5, the Cowboys have won five of their last seven contests to creep within one-half game of Philadelphia in the NFC East race.

Last season, the Bears went into Cowboys Stadium on a Monday night in October and knocked off Dallas, 34-18 as three-point underdogs. The Bears' defense returned two Tony Romo interceptions for touchdowns, as the Cowboys' quarterback was picked off five times in the defeat. Brandon Marshall burned Dallas for 138 yards and a touchdown, as the Cowboys picked up eight more first downs than the Bears in the loss (26-18).

Dallas makes its first visit to Soldier Field since 2010, when the Cowboys drilled the Bears, 34-10 to cash outright as three-point 'dogs. The Cowboys' defense harassed Rex Grossman all night with three interceptions, while Dallas outscored Chicago, 31-7 in the second half to narrowly finish 'over' the closing total of 41.

Cutler will miss his fifth full game of the season, while basically being out for most of the loss at Washington back in Week 7. Josh McCown has filled in admirably for Cutler, tossing nine touchdowns and throwing only one interception. However, the Bears are 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS with McCown under center, while he is making just his second home start of the season.

The Bears have been a disaster to back this season, as Marc Trestman's club owns a dreadful 2-9 ATS record. In fact, Chicago has covered only one of its last nine games and that came in a win as 10-point underdogs at Green Bay in Week 9 when Aaron Rodgers suffered a collarbone injury in the first quarter. At Soldier Field this season, the Bears have put together an 0-5-1 ATS record, while losing outright to the Saints and Lions.

Normally, Dallas has been a poor team to wager on since its lines were inflated due to perception. However, the Cowboys are cashing tickets with an 8-4 ATS record, including an impressive 4-2 ATS mark away from Arlington. Jason Garrett's team has failed to win three straight games this season, but Dallas owns a 6-2 record inside the NFC, which will certainly help them for tiebreaker purposes.

The 'under' has been the play on Monday night football recently, hitting in three straight and seven of the past eight weeks. The favorites are currently on a 3-0 SU/ATS run, including consecutive blowout wins by San Francisco (at Washington) and Seattle (against New Orleans). The Cowboys are making their first appearance on Monday night this season, while going 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS since 2010 under the Monday spotlight.

From a totals perspective, Dallas has finished 'over' the total in three straight games, while compiling an 8-4 mark to the 'over' this season. In six road contests, the Cowboys have hit the 'over' four times, including each of the last three games against the Giants, Saints, and Lions. The Bears are 4-2 to the 'over' at Soldier Field, with the two 'unders' coming in games with totals above 50 against New Orleans and Detroit.

After Dallas opened up as a short one-point favorite, this game is listed at a pick-em at most spots. The total is set at 48 across the board, as the contest kicks off at 8:30 PM from Soldier Field and can be seen nationally on ESPN.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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