Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears
Friday, 01:20 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event
Jobs on the line
This could well be a must win for both teams, and perhaps for the head coaches. Both teams sit at 6-6 after disappointing seasons and Jason Garrett and Matt Nagy are both in contention to lose their jobs at the end of the season. Garrett is perhaps more likely, but Nagy is not safe after an awful campaign in which they have probably been lucky to reach six wins so far.
A loss for the Cowboys here and owner Jerry Jones may finally get rid of the head coach that many think has hung around too long already. He said this week that there would be no coaching change because it was a Thursday game and wouldn't allow enough time. Not exactly a strong backing. The Panthers fired Ron Rivera this week and the Cowboys may make a move sooner rather than later, so they do not get left behind in the coaching search.
Can Prescott beat a good team?
Dak Prescott was considered one of the leading MVP candidates just a couple of weeks ago, but back-to-back poor games - the stats make the Bills game look a lot better than it was as the Cowboys were playing catch up - has seen him fall down that list.
Throughout his career there have been question marks about his ability to beat the best teams in the league, and perhaps more importantly in this match-up, the best defences. This season the Cowboys have beaten every team they have faced with a losing record and lost to every team with a winning record. Facing a .500 team makes this one a little harder to predict. The blame does not fall entirely at Prescott's feet, but he is certainly playing his part in these losses. Some of his worst games this season have come against New England, Buffalo, New Orleans and Green Bay. It is something he will have to improve on if he is going to be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Trubisky's last few games as a Bear?
On the other side, Mitchell Trubisky has really struggled this year. There have been some improvements of late, but that is a very low bar. He has eight touchdowns in his past four outings, but that takes him to just 13 on the entire season. Some of it can be put down to Nagy not doing a great job of putting him in a position to succeed, but the Bears are likely to move on from Trubisky in the offseason. There will be very few out there that would argue that decision would be wrong. He just has not made many improvements since coming into the league in 2017.
Run game is the key
Both teams are, or at least want to be, run heavy offences. Neither has quite lived up to expectations though. Ezekiel Elliott needs just 10 yards to go over 1000 yards rushing this season, but he is set to post the worst yards per carry number of his career. He is still playing well and one of the best backs in the league, but he just seems to be missing that edge. Some of it can be put down to an offensive line that is perhaps a little overrated now with some changes and players getting older, but Elliott is not blameless. He is however still very important in this offence and if Prescott does struggle against this good defence, then they could turn to him to get the job done.
David Montgomery came into the season with pretty high expectations. He was seen as a good fit for Nagy's offence, but he has not reached the level that many expected. He has gone over 75 yards rushing just once and has not even reached 50 in four of his past seven games. He is not contributing much as a pass catcher either with Tarik Cohen taking most of those duties, so Montgomery's rookie season has not lived up to the hopes of a lot of people in Chicago. However, he is being given every chance to succeed with lots of work each week, and that should continue here.
Both teams are top 10 in the league in defence and have been amongst the tightest in terms of giving up passing touchdowns. Teams have been able to have a little more success in running the ball against them though, so Elliott and Montgomery look set to be the key players for these teams.
It is hard to see either team putting up loads of points here. They both rank in the top eight in points allowed and we look set for a game full of defence and rushing.