Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Extra: Scouting the Chicago Bears

The playoffs, Brandon Marshall admitted this week, are a long shot for the Chicago Bears. And even that is an understatement.

The Bears are 5-7 and, even if they win out, would still need things to fall right for them to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010. After all, it’s looking likely that even a 10-win team could be left out of the NFC mix at this point.

“It may even take a miracle,” Marshall went on to say. “You still got to continue to play for that.

“For me and just like everyone else in Chicago, we want to win. It’s just tough right now for us to be in the position we’re in right now — maybe or maybe not playing for something. I don’t know.”

For whatever reason, the Bears can’t seem to put anything together the past few seasons. This year, the offense appears to have the necessary pieces, but the defense doesn’t.

The Bears are among the worst defenses in the NFL, allowing the second-most points per game (28.1) and an average of 376.2 yards per game. And the offense simply can’t make up for that, even with one of the better wide receiving duos in the league.

Marshall has been outperformed by Alshon Jeffery this season by most measures. Marshall has caught one more touchdown pass, 8-7, than Jeffery, but that’s about it. Jeffery has more receiving yards (854-660) and receptions (67-58) than Marshall.

The Cowboys are well aware of Marshall and Jeffery, of course, using backup tight end Gavin Escobar on the scout team this week to mimic the tall, athletic receivers.

But the receiving corps is about the only bright spot going for the Bears. As stated, the defense has its own issues, quarterback Jay Cutler is averaging only 6.9 yards per pass attempt this season, and running back Matt Forte is growing impatient with his lack of carries.

It all helps explain why the Bears have lost four of their last six games to essentially fall out of contention.

“We’re just not very good right now,” Marshall said. “We’ve just got to continue to work.”

Briefly

• Bears defensive end Jared Allen has 4 1/2 sacks, including three in the past three games. He is looking to avoid his career-low of 7 1/2 set in 2006 with the Kansas City Chiefs.



• The Cowboys won’t have to worry about longtime Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve Friday with a groin injury. Briggs, who likely won’t return to Chicago next season if he plays, went to the Pro Bowl seven times in 12 years with the Bears.



They said it

“Once you get into the game, your record is out the window. You can look at the Lions [before Thursday’s game vs. the Bears]; they didn’t score an offensive touchdown the last two games. They lost the last two games. But that’s a hill of beans when it comes to this game, because this game is a new game.” — Chicago safety Ryan Mundy

“Last year was last year. I remember it being a highly competitive game. I think it was 14-14 at one point, a close game and exchanging scores. We were able to pull away a little bit, but it certainly was a highly competitive game that really went into the fourth quarter.” — Chicago coach Marc Trestman, on the Bears’ 45-28 victory over the Cowboys in 2013

Telling numbers

42 percent Bears offense’s success rate on third-down conversions.

41 percent Bears opponents’ success rate on third-down conversions.

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