PFF Preview: Cowboys @ Bears, Week 14
The Chicago Bears (5-7) and Dallas Cowboys (8-4) each suffered a loss to a divisional rival on Thanksgiving last week. This week they will meet up in the second Thursday game of the season for each team. The Bears will try to salvage a season that has so far been below expectations, while the Cowboys try to make their playoff push when they meet at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Last week the Bears assigned rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller with the duty of covering Calvin Johnson for most of the game; a tall task for any corner, much less a rookie. Johnson went on to have a big day catching nine of his 13 targets for 117 yards and two touchdowns when Fuller was covering him. If the Bears stick with the strategy of matching Fuller against the opposition’s top receiver, he will face another of the league’s best this week.
Dez Bryant has been the focal point of the Cowboys’ passing game, garnering more targets than the rest of the team’s wide receivers combined. His 10 touchdowns on the year rank second for wide receivers, and his ability to force missed tackles after the catch (13 on the year) has made him one of the most dangerous receivers in the game. Good coverage will not prevent the Cowboys from throwing his direction as can be shown from the league-leading five interceptions thrown on passes his way.
Here are some other players to watch in this game:
Kyle Long – The second-year guard has allowed pressure on the quarterback on only 11 the 502 plays he has spent pass blocking. His 98.4 Pass Blocking Efficiency rating is fifth-best among guards.
Matt Forte – Forte has excelled in the passing game this year and currently leads running backs in Yards Per Route Run with 1.74.
Jared Allen – After a slow start to the season and a -4.0 rating as a pass rusher through the first 10 weeks of the season, Allen has turned it around and has earned a +8.8 over the last three games where he’s generated 20 total pressures.
Tyrone Crawford – The third-year defensive lineman is having a breakout season, putting pressure on the quarterback 30 times in the 250 snaps he has rushed the passer so far this season.
Rolando McClain – McClain has been in important part of the Cowboys’ ability to stop the run with a team-leading 36 stops and a position-leading 14.5% Run Stop Percentage.
DeMarco Murray – Murray has forced a total of 72 missed tackles (rushing and receiving), the highest of any running back. He’s two ahead of Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and four in front of Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell.
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