The Bears' 2019 season still has a pulse because of their win over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day coupled with losses by the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers in Week 13, two teams also jockeying for the sixth and final NFC playoff seed.
But if Chicago wants to avoid flatlining Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys, they'll have to stop All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott, who defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano hinted will be as challenging of a test the team has faced all year.
"He's a great, great back," Pagano said Monday from Halas Hall. "He's big. He's strong. He's got great vision. He can run. He can take it inside, bounce outside, run through you; run around you; jump over you. He's a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. He's good in pass [protection]. He's as good as they get."
Through 12 games this season, Elliott has 227 carries for 990 yards and seven touchdowns. His rushing yards rank sixth in the NFL and trails the league's leading rusher, Nick Chubb (Browns), by less than 200 yards.
Matt Nagy expanded on Chicago's scouting report for the Cowboys' bellcow.
"He has great contact balance. But the other thing they do well with him too is they are able to dump the ball out to him in the flat and he can make guys miss. He's a hard tackle one-on-one for a DB, linebacker at times. He's versatile."
If the Bears are to have any chance at upsetting the Cowboys in front of a national audience on Thursday night, it starts with stopping Elliott. It's a task much easier said than done, but if there's any defense with the talent to do it, it's Chicago.
"We're extremely excited for the matchup," linebacker Roquan Smith said, "and I think it'll be good for us."
Chuck Pagano on Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott: 'He's as good as they get' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago