The Chicago Bears (3-4) are riding high after walloping the New England Patriots 33-14. The Bears will look to continue their road win streak as they head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys (5-2) on Sunday afternoon.
After everything went right for Chicago last Monday, they will face another tough challenge on the road. Dallas has one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Micah Parsons and has plenty of weapons on offense.
While the Cowboys are a 9.5-point favorite, the Bears can win by running the ball and continuing to use Justin Fields as a dual threat.
As Chicago looks to improve to 4-4 against Dallas, here are three reasons for optimism.
Dallas has allowed 100+ yards rushing in five of seven games
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The Bears run the football well. Chicago leads the NFL in total rushing yards (1,267) and yards per game (181). Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery have combined for 782 combined yards, and the emergence of Justin Fields as a runner puts the group well over 1,000 yards rushing.
Running the football is the strength of the Bears’ offense, and it’s a way to beat the Cowboys, who allow more than 120 yards rushing per game.
Using Justin Fields as a runner has improved the offense
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On Monday night, the Bears’ offense seemed to find its identity. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy went off script and called 12 designed QB runs for Justin Fields, which gave the offense a spark it didn’t have the first six weeks of the season.
The Bears had their highest scoring game with Fields at quarterback, as he finished with 14 rushes for 82 yards and a score, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Fields’ success as a passer improves by taking advantage of his ability as a runner.
The offense’s improvement is noticeable when comparing the Bears’ win over New England and loss to New York. Both teams blitzed Chicago often on defense, and Fields had nearly identical passing performances regarding yards and attempts.
But his completion percentage and percent of passes that led to first downs improved. The combination of Fields as a runner and passer led to the Bears having a 61% third down conversion rate, by far their best of the season.
The Bears passing defense is trending up
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New general manager Ryan Poles made a splash by drafting two defensive backs with his first two selections in the 2022 NFL draft, and it seems to be paying off. On Monday night, both rookies, cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker recorded their first career interceptions in a 33-14 win over the Patriots in New England.
But Brisker and Gordon weren’t the only Bears to have an interception. Veteran linebacker Roquan Smith picked off a Bailey Zappe throw in the fourth quarter to secure the victory for the Bears.
If the rookie Bears defenders are finding their confidence in the secondary, and they continue to have help up front from Smith, who is the team leader in tackles, and sacks and has the second most interceptions, then this defense could become a threat in the latter half of the season.