NFL Week 14: Cowboys Can Cruise In Chicago11 min read
We head into the final month of the regular season and Lindy’s Sports’ UK editor Simon Milham looks at some of the big games ahead of NFL Week 14, including Thursday night’s battle between two NFC playoff hopefuls…
Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears
After a couple of frustrating losses, the Dallas Cowboys can get back on track and cement their place at the top of the NFC East with victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
They have managed two touchdowns in total in the last two games, both coming against the Buffalo Bills in a 26-15 home defeat, which followed a 13-9 beatdown at New England.
Speculation continues to swirl over head coach Jason Garrett’s future and his team have yet to beat another with a winning record.
Chicago moved to 6-6 for the season with a less-than-convincing 24-20 Thanksgiving Day win over the Detroit Lions, who started third-stringer David Blough at quarterback.
Philadelphia’s ghastly loss in Miami means the Cowboys have a one-game lead over the Eagles in the NFC East and that result also helped Chicago’s playoff chances. They are just a game behind the Los Angeles Rams, although Sean McVay’s team own a tie-breaker following their 17-7 win over the Bears in Week 11.
Chicago is on a two-game winning streak, following close victories over the 2-10 New York Giants and the 3-8-1 Lions, and even though QB Mitchell Trubisky completed 29 of 38 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns, he was facing the Lions’ 29th-ranked defense, which gives up an average of 398 yards per game.
The Cowboys’ eight-ranked unit is a little overrated yet will still provide a much sterner test for Trubisky, who has been playing behind an inconsistent offensive line. He faces an elite pass rush that has opponents converting only 32.45 neither squad has hit the same heights as last term. New England’s offense is struggling, as QB Tom Brady does not appear to have a great deal of confidence in his young receiving corps and the retirement of TE Rob Gronkowski has had a detrimental impact upon the running game, as he was a reliable and key blocking component. The loss of James Develin (injured Reserve) and Trent Brown (who went to Oakland), has meant the Patriots have dipped to an average of 98.5 yards per game on the ground.
Julian Edelman is the go-to receiver, but when he is covered, Brady is struggling to consistently find open targets and, as a result, the Patriots are managing a mere 18 points per game average.
Kansas City’s defense has improved a little from last year’s porous unit – over the last three games, it has forced eight total turnovers. But just 24 points have been scored from those turnovers – and the offense has accounted for only 17 of them.
It could be argued that it is the offense that will hold them back from a Super Bowl bid, despite scoring 99 points in the last three games.
After all, they are down to the bare bones at running back, with Darrel Williams now joining Damian Williams on the sidelines for Sunday’s clash. LeSean McCoy is also being treated with kid gloves after suffering an ankle injury earlier in the year, so expect an expanded role for sixth-round draft pick Darwin Thompson and old favourite, Spencer Ware, who was re-signed this week.
The Chiefs rely heavily on TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill, and need much more from Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson, who have been largely bit-part players in recent weeks. One wonders if the Chiefs regret allowing deep threat Chris Conley to leave for Jacksonville, because outside of Hill, QB Patrick Mahomes lacks reliable receivers.
Having beaten the AFC top seed Baltimore, who have improved since that Week 3 loss, the Chiefs may be catching the Patriots at the right time. Yet this is by far their toughest road test and they have lost seven of the last eight at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots defense has struggled against mobile passers, but if they can limit Hill, Brady invariably finds a way to win.
TIP: New England Patriots -3 points at