The Cowboys are home again this Sunday as they welcome their second straight NFC North opponent to AT&T Stadium, the Chicago Bears. Both teams are coming off a win; Dallas defeated the Lions 24-6, while the Bears handled the Patriots on Monday Night Football, 33-14, to improve to 3-4 on the year.
The Cowboys sit at 5-2, firmly in the NFC playoff picture, but they need to ensure they don't overlook a Bears team who just ran for over 200 yards against a Bill Belichick team in Foxborough.
I'm not expecting another five-turnover game, but the defense needs to continue to dominate Sunday to hold off the No. 1 rushing team in football. The Bears are averaging 181 yards per game, good for over five yards a carry, and they lead the NFL in total rushing yards and yards per game.
What has been the Achilles' heel despite possibly being the best defense in football? The ability to stop the run.
The Cowboys have begun an attempt to address that problem by trading for Raiders DT Johnathan Hankins on Tuesday afternoon. Mike McCarthy said Wednesday he was unsure if he would be ready to play against the Bears. If he can, it would be a massive help to the interior. Pro Football Focus currently has Hankins graded better against the run than every Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle except for Trysten Hill.
The Bears' offensive line has struggled this season; they have given up 27 sacks, the most in football. Expect Micah Parsons and the crew to force Justin Fields to flush and use his legs to create big plays. I fully anticipate Fields, Khalil Herbert, and David Montgomery to have a solid game, but Darnell Mooney and the rest of the Bears pass catchers don't worry me.
On the other side of the ball, the Bears have some playmakers on defense despite trading three-time Pro Bowler Robert Quinn to the Eagles yesterday. They have been solid in pass coverage, but if they pick a guy to attack, it should be Kyler Gordon.
Ezekiel Elliott sat out of practice Wednesday as he worked through a right knee injury. He took a hit against Detroit but played the rest of the game. With the Cowboys' bye week following week eight, I would sit him Sunday to be careful.
They have another starting running back in Tony Pollard. Use him early and often in both the run and passing game, he is the team's game-changing player on offense, but we all already knew that.
I would love to see Michael Gallup get involved this week; he was only targeted twice against the Lions. He is excellent on third down, and Kellen Moore should find a way to get the ball into his hands on one of the most essential downs in football.
Speaking of Moore, I never want to see another wide receiver reverse, something he ran twice last week. Once with KaVontae Turpin and the other with CeeDee Lamb. It puts them behind the chains, a waste of a down.
Stop being cute and just run the ball between the tackles.
This game will be tight early, and being from Illinois, all I will hear Sunday is trash talk, but once the game is over, all my buddies will go silent after the Cowboys roll in the second half and take care of business.
The Cowboys win this one 27-16.