When the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys each take a long look into the mirror the image they may see is one of the team they both are playing against Monday night.
Both teams opened the season with impressive wins. Both teams laid eggs in week two losses. Both teams looked lethargic in week three wins. Both teams have a quarterback constantly under scrutiny from the media.
This list can go on and on, but we will just leave it at that for right now.
With all the similarities, there is not much of a doubt the team with the least mistakes will leave Cowboys Stadium with a 3-1 record and tied for their respective division lead.
So without further ado, here are my three bold predictions for this NFC.
1. Bears' QB Jay Cutler will shine
Since the Bears gave up two first-round draft picks and a third-round pick four years ago, fans have been waiting for Cutler to lead them back to the Super Bowl. The heavily criticized signal caller has been perceived as one to cave under the pressure of the big game. Monday is as good a time as any to erase some of that doubt.
Cutler enters the game with a QB rating of 56.8 through the first three games, which ranked 31ist in the league at the start of week 4. He has thrown twice as many interceptions (6) as touchdowns (3) and has not thrown for over 200 yards since passing for 333 yards in a 41-21 romp over the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener.
Cutler has also thrown a pick in the last four games, dating back to his final start of last season, but look for that streak to end Monday. Look for offensive coordinator Mike Tice call for some early bubble screens and quick slants to receivers to get Cutler into and early rhythm. My prediction: 250 + yards, two touchdowns, and most importantly ZERO interceptions.
2. Bears' defense will be exposed
Through the first three weeks the Bears' defense has carried the team. The Bears lead the NFL with 14 sacks on the season and entering the week had given up the second fewest points (36) only to the Texans 33.
Like the Bears, the Cowboys offense has struggled in each of the last two weeks as well. It may sound strange to say a struggling offense if going to have a break-out game against a high profile defense like the Bears, but stranger things have happened. Just ask the San Francisco 49ers last week.
3. Devin Hester will have a breakout game
Two catches, 27 yards. Those are Hester’s total through the first three weeks of the season.
The dynamic play-maker -- known more for his return abilities than his receiving skills -- has publicly displayed his frustration. Mike Tice mentioned in the off-season the team would use a “Hester package” this season but has yet to unveil it at this point.
Hester dropped a third-down reception in his only target in the loss to the Packers in week 2, and could not haul in a rather difficult reception that would have been a touchdown last week. He has cited not being targeted as much in the offense as a reason for the lack of concentration, per say.
As part of my first prediction, look for Tice to feature Hester early in the game to make sure he is in rhythm with Cutler and the offense. Also look for the Bears to use him in the wildcat for a few snaps to let him create some plays on his own.
A score in the return game could also give Hester a little extra motivation.
Game Prediction: Bears 31, Cowboys 30
TRAVIS DAVID is a contributor of FOOTBALL NATOIN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Tdavid_21.
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