Bear PAWS: Plenty at stake for Bears and Cowboys

Glynn Morgan
NBC Sports Chicago

Growing up in this world isn't easy, and so we tend to look to the adults around us for guidance. These grown-ups, whether they be our parents, teachers or mentors, offer words of advice that matter.

Occasionally, they'll use a phrase or two over and over, as if these "pearls of wisdom" will sink into our brains and clarify the universe's mysteries. Personally, I still don't quite get the phrase "a stitch in time saves nine," but, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" makes sense to me as an adult. Looking at the 2019 Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, the saying "six of one, half a dozen of the other," becomes crystal clear.

The Bears and Cowboys are alike in unusual ways, such that even their dissimilarities have incongruous similarities, reflected in mirroring 6-6 win/loss records. Basically, it's hard to tell them apart, so I suggest we use P.A.W.S. (Predictive Analysis With Statistics) to pry answers from two indeterminable teams with identical records.

Currently, Dallas is the only NFL team ranked in the top 10 in overall offense (eighth) and overall defense (eighth) that doesn't have a winning record…or losing record. How's that for "six of one, half a dozen of the other?"

The Cowboys on offense and defense are tied for sixth in passing TDs scored (23) and in TDs allowed (14). Strangely enough, they've rushed for 12 TDs while surrendering 11 TDs on the ground, further demonstrating a knack for being counterproductive.

In a weird confluence of karmic energies, Dallas' margin of defeat in its six losses looks like this: away (-2), home (-2), away (-10), home (-4), away (-4), and home (-11). Clearly, we are dealing with universal forces beyond mere mortal comprehension, but, for the sake of trying, please keep reading. As fate would have it, both Dallas and Chicago have three home wins and three home losses, meaning they have exactly three road victories and been defeated three times on the road, too.

On the season, the Bears have passed for 2,631 yards; however, they've allowed teams to pass for 2,666 yards against them. Offensively, Chicago's total of 24 TDs makes them the sixth-worst scoring team at 17.7 points per game. Conversely, surrendering 23 TDs defensively ranks them fourth overall at 17.3 points allowed per contest. Chicago, for all its mid-season woes, has won three of their last four games played and appears to be trending upward.

Collectively, both teams are puzzling and downright frustrating to understand. Last season, each team won their respective division and sent eight members apiece to the Pro Bowl.

Confounding defeats to losing teams decidedly below a .500 winning percentage (Chicago to Chargers and Cowboys to Jets) speak to a disconnect somewhere between the players and coaching staff.

Ironically, the Cowboys possess the only non-losing record in a division of sub-.500 teams, whereas Chicago is the lesser of three teams without a losing record in the NFC North. Thursday night's contest for these two 6-6 teams may help determine which organization is ready to step forward...then again, it might not. If the Bears are going to take account of themselves and the rest of their season, this week facing the Cowboys they must:

● Contain Dak Prescott, the NFL's passing leader in yards (3,788) and among the leaders in yards per attempt (8.5 y/a).

● Take advantage of their sixth-best punt return unit (9.3 y/ret) and use field position against Dallas' sixth-worst punt return team (5.6 y/ret).

● Keep faith in Mitch Trubisky's ability to win in the clutch (Mitch has two game-winning drives to Prescott's zero this season).

Potentially, Chicago and Dallas still have a "playoff glass" to sip from if only shallowly. However, when Thursday's game ends, one team's cup might be a tad fuller than the other's.

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Bear PAWS: Plenty at stake for Bears and Cowboys originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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