COWBOYS 2013 GAME 13 GUTCHECK: Dallas Cowboys playoff hopes chilled by Chicago Bears beat down

COWBOYS 2013 GAME 13 GUTCHECK - Dallas Cowboys playoff hopes chilled by Chicago Bears beat down - DeMarco Murray

CHICAGO –  Dallas Cowboys writers share their initial feelings of the Cowboys 45-28 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.

Eatman: I couldn’t have been more wrong. I knew better. I just thought or wanted to think this team was better. Honestly, I thought when the Cowboys marched down and scored like that on the first drive, I had a sense this could be a blowout. Well, it was. The defense was simply awful from the coaching, to scheme to execution to tackling to making plays on the ball. The weather might have been a factor for one team, but not both.

Kavner: This wasn’t at all the game most of us expected. Rather than the sloppy offensive performance I anticipated with a subzero wind chill, the Bears’ offense picked apart the Cowboys through the air. I thought DeMarco Murray would run well and he exceeded those expectations, but as the Bears’ lead expanded, the Cowboys’ success running the ball mattered less and less, and at no point did they seem to stand a chance without a pass rush to affect Josh McCown or his mammoth receivers who continued to snag most passes thrown their way. The Cowboys pride themselves on resiliency and playing through the whistle, but that was far from the case on Monday night. Dez Bryant did come up with a touchdown but finished with just two catches. The Cowboys also had two interceptions fall through their hands, as nothing went their way in Chicago and the Eagles kept sole possession of first in the division.

David Helman: To some degree, I had a pretty good grasp on what was going to happen at Soldier Field. I said the Cowboys backs would run the ball well. I said the Bears’ balance would be hard to deal with. I even correctly predicted a Joseph Randle touchdown run. Of course, I also said the game would be competitive — which was way off the mark. It’s one thing to look utterly helpless against Drew Brees in an air-conditioned dome, but against Josh McCown in adverse conditions? The Cowboys defense has a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. The playoffs look like a long shot if this team can’t rebound in a big way.

POSTGAME First Take - Postgame video recap and highlights - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

First Take | Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears | NFL 2013 Game 13 of 16 (3:34)

Reporters Eatman, Broaddus, and Kavner give you their first impressions of Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears game from Soldier Field sidelines. (Watch this Video | Listen to Audio)

Here were the gut feelings posted Monday afternoon:

CHICAGO – A share of the NFC East lead left the grasp of the Dallas Cowboys a day ago as the Eagles took care of business and went to 8-5 as snow poured down Sunday against the Lions.

The 7-5 Cowboys have a chance to get back atop the division in the frigid conditions of Chicago with a Monday Night Football matchup against the 6-6 Bears, who are also fighting to get atop their division.

Here are the gut feelings for Dallas Cowboy writers Eatman, Kavner and Helman.

Eatman: I think it’s normal to look at another team like the Bears and get caught up in what they do well. Guys like Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte and then factor in the cold and the playing conditions and it sometimes seems unfathomable for this Cowboys to win this game in this stadium in this month. But the Bears are 6-6 too and if you remember back earlier this year, they had a couple of wins in the final seconds or they should be a lot worse than 6-6. Obviously they did enough to win them but my point is, this team can get beat no matter the team or the conditions. I think the Cowboys are better and they grind out a win. I see Jason Witten playing well and the return of Sean Lee will lead to more third-and-long situations. I see Selvie with two sacks. It’ll be close but I like Dallas, 23-19.

Kavner: If the Giants game a few weeks ago seemed sloppy, this one should take that to another level. With temperatures nearing the single digits and wind being a factor as well Monday in Chicago, it’s not going to be the prettiest offensive football game. That’s despite three of the best receivers in football taking the field in Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. I expect a lot of running when the wind’s against each team and a lot of quick passes with a few back shoulder fades mixed in when it’s behind them, which Bryant will score on. I predict Jeffery ends up the game’s leading receiver, Marshall finds the end zone, but DeMarco Murray gets going and J.J. Wilcox secures a game-sealing pick as the Cowboys keep pace in the NFC East and leave chilly Chicago with a 21-17 win.

Helman: It’s encouraging to think the Cowboys are just two weeks removed from snagging a road win in harsh conditions. But this trip to Chicago feels like a different animal, as far as I’m concerned. The Bears are much more balanced than the Giants or Raiders, with a top-notch running back and two hard-to-handle wide receivers. They don’t defend the run well, and I think the Cowboys will take advantage of that. I’m calling for DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle to both find the end zone. I think Chicago’s weapons on offense are too much, though. Sean Lee’s return should help keep Forte in check, but I look for Brandon Marshall to have a big day in a close Bears win.

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