The Dallas Cowboys have lost three of their last five games and now sit just outside the NFC playoff picture at 8-4. If the Cowboys want their season to extend past the next four weeks, a Thursday night meeting with a struggling Chicago Bears team is a game Dallas has to have.
Chicago is 5-7 and is still technically in the playoff picture, but it's a distant dream at this point. The Bears are under-performing big time on both sides of the ball, leading some to already question the job security of head coach Marc Trestman. Chicago is coming off a 34-17 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving that only hurt more because the Bears opened that game with 14-0.
The NFC East is a two-team race at this point, with the Philadelphia Eagles' Week decisive Week 13 victory over Dallas currently making up the difference in he standings. The Cowboys have a decent chance at tying even their record with Philadelphia this week given that the Eagles have a tough game at home against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. If Dallas' game against the Bears doesn't technically count as a must-win, it's awful close.
Chicago is already thinking about next season with the future of Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler up in the air, despite the latter's massive contract being guaranteed for the next two seasons. Dallas doesn't want to image an immediate future without a playoff berth. All the pressure is on the Cowboys as it stands with the current season, but most of Chicago's roster is playing for their livelihood. It all adds up to an intriguing meeting at Soldier Field.
How to Watch
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago
When: 8:25 p.m. ET
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
The Cowboys opened as 4.5-point favorites, though the line narrowed throughout the week, with most sites moving to a line of -3.5 for Chicago, according to OddsShark, with an over/under of 51 points.