Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Fitting that a chilly (and worse) weekend across the nation’s midsection will be capped off by a Monday Night game in Chicago! At least the Dallas Cowboys dealt with some Chicago weather on their homefront before making the trip North in one of the most intense weather weeks football has seen in years.
Are these teams suited to the bitter cold? You’d think the Bears would be. They certainly were under Lovie Smith, with a smash mouth approach that dared opposing offenses to battle a great defense AND the elements. That’s less certain under new coach Marc Trestman. Even though his head coaching experience came in the Canadian Football League, he runs an offense that look best suited to warm weather or domes rather than frozen tundra. And, his defense has been one of the worst in the league! That’s fairly common when offensive gurus take over full teams. The defense falls apart immediately.
For the Cowboys. Well…they’re coached by a former quarterback…and their defense has been horrible too! Stick this game indoors or in good weather and you have a 38-35 thriller…maybe 45-41 given that was the score between Chicago and Washington. Wait, 51-48 was the score between Dallas and Denver! Who knows what might happen if these offense faced defenses in good scoring conditions. We won’t have that. We have a frigid December night in the Windy City.
Let’s run some numbers then make weather adjustments as best as possible…
Won-Lost Records (strength of schedule)
Dallas: 7-5 (#9 schedule in USA Today)
Chicago: 6-6 (#25 schedule in USA Today)
No weather to deal with in this one. Dallas is the better team. Dallas has a better record against a tougher schedule…meaning that they’re probably two games better than Chicago vs. a neutral schedule. Possibly three games better. Since their styles are so similar…you have to assume that Chicago is the inferior model.
Dallas: 5.5 on offense, 6.1 on defense
Chicago: 6.0 on offense, 6.0 on defense
This is where it gets interesting. Chicago ISN’T the inferior model on a per-play basis. They’re right at break even, which would drop to a small negative against an average schedule. Dallas would improve on that -0.6 vs. an average schedule…probably up to where Chicago dropped to. These teams are virtually even once you adjust for context in per-play production. Let’s imagine roughly 5.9 to 6.1 for both teams, then drop that to 5.3 to 5.5 for cold weather.
This is where Dallas is making its hay. Well, this and the ability to execute late in close games against weak teams like Minnesota and Oakland. The Cowboys are a playoff contender because of turnover differential, which is usually the sign of a pretender rather than a real contender. Chicago is a .500 team because of turnover differential and a weak schedule. Monday’s winner will still be in the thick of the playoff picture…but they’ll be doing so as a probable pretender. For Monday, both teams will be dealing with conditions that tend to encourage turnovers. Since Dallas is out of their standard climate…that would suggest problems for Tony Romo’s offense.
Dallas: 8-4 ATS
Chicago: 2-9-1 ATS
This is interesting. Both of these teams are often “public” darlings in terms of the betting window. Dallas has been known as “America’s Team” forever. Chicago is still celebrated in TV commercials off the glow created by their Super Bowl win under Mike Ditka. Even the “discount double check” spots with Aaron Rodgers had to go that direction! Yet, Dallas is covering spreads at a 67% clip. The Bears have quietly been abysmal against the spread as they continue to miss market expectations. Were YOU aware that the Bears had been that bad againt the number?
Current Line: Pick-em, total 48
The market is saying Dallas is about three points better in neutral field Power Ratings. Possibly more if the market is giving the Bears extra home field advantage because of the conditions that favor grizzly bears more than cowboys. That tells you that the market has soured some on Chicago. The stats we saw above don’t really suggest THAT big a difference between the teams. Would Dallas be -6 or -7 at home?
JIM HURLEY knows how important Mondays are to you bankroll. He’s been working very closely with his team sources this week because of the unique circumstances surrounding this game. You can purchase the final word for Monday…along with bonus NBA…right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
We’ll be back Tuesday to preview the huge Kansas/Florida game in college basketball that will be nationally televised by ESPN. Football resumes Thursday with the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos on the NFL Network it what could be another cold weather showdown.
BUNDLE UP for another BIG, JUICY WINNER. Frigid conditions don’t bother JIM HURLEY. He’s always been a big fan of COLD, HARD CASH!