The margin for error is slim for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, who meet Monday night with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance. The host Bears can't afford a third straight loss, as they trail Detroit by a game in the NFC North and lost both head-to-head meetings with the Lions. The Cowboys have won two straight and are tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East.
The Cowboys bolstered their playoff chances with a 31-24 win over Oakland on Thanksgiving, but they haven't had much luck in December - a month when quarterback Tony Romo is 11-15 as a starter. "It all comes with the dinner," Dallas coach Jason Garrett told reporters of the criticism of his quarterback. "He's got a position that is one of the great jobs on the planet. What comes with that is some of the scrutiny, and he understands that." The Bears won 34-18 last year in Dallas, intercepting Romo five times and taking two of them back for touchdowns.
TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Bears -1. O/U: 48.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (7-5): Dallas' playoff chances seemed slim after a 49-17 pummeling by New Orleans in Week 10, but the Cowboys have eked out close wins the past two weeks. The ground game has come to life with DeMarco Murray scoring a career-high three touchdowns against the Raiders, and that's likely to be a focus against the Bears' league-worst run defense. The defense has to be better in December, as the Cowboys rank last in the league in total yards allowed (421.6) and 22nd in scoring defense (25.3).
ABOUT THE BEARS (6-6): Chicago's hopes of an NFC North title took a hit when Robbie Gould missed a potential game-winning field goal in a 23-20 overtime loss at Minnesota last week. Quarterback Jay Cutler has been ruled out for Sunday, meaning Josh McCown will make his fourth straight start and his fifth in six games. The defense has struggled, especially against the run, and linebacker Lance Briggs will miss his sixth straight game with a shoulder injury.
1. Romo has passed for 300 yards in all three games against Chicago.
2. Chicago RB Matt Forte needs 29 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the fourth time in his career.
3. McCown has passed for 1,461 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception and boasts a 103.6 rating.
PREDICTION: Bears 23, Cowboys 20