- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO BEARS AT DALLAS COWBOYS
When: 7:30, Monday | TV: ESPN | RADIO: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM
CHICAGO BEARS (2-1)
Coach: Lovie Smith Record including playoffs: 73-58
Career head-to-head record (including playoffs) vs. Jason Garrett: 0-0 | Career record vs. Cowboys: 3-3
Last week: Defeated St. Louis Rams 23-6
Key stat:The Bears lead the league with 14 sacks and rank sixth in total defense (279 yards per game), fifth in scoring defense (16.7 points per game) and second in takeaways (9). Chicago’s 14 sacks rank as the second most for the franchise through the first three games since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic.
Offense rank in 2011: 27th (290 ypg) | Defense rank: 6th (279 ypg).
Offensive leader: Brandon Marshall leads the Bears with 16 catches for 214 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Jay Cutler has targeted him nearly twice as many times as the club’s second-leading receiver Alshon Jeffery. With three drops on the season, Marshall needs to capitalize on the all the opportunities provided by Cutler. In two games against the Cowboys, Marshall has caught nine passes for 194 yards and 2 TDs.
Defensive leader: CB Tim Jennings has picked off at least one pass in every game so far, and now leads the NFL with 4 picks. Going back to Week 17 of last season, Jennings has picked off a pass in four consecutive contests, making him the first Bear to pick off a pass in four straight outings since Dave Duerson in1986. Interestingly, seven of Jennings’ 11 interceptions have come over the last three seasons with the Bears after he spent his first four years with the Colts.
•A win gives Chicago its second consecutive victory over the Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium.
•Alshon Jeffery has caught a pass in every game thus far, and leads all rookies in receiving yardage with nine catches for 132 yards and a touchdown.
•Brian Urlacher needs one more start to tie Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary for the third-most starts in franchise history (172).
• Kicker Robbie Gould has made all six of his field-goal attempts so far, including a 54 yarder last week in the win over the Rams. Gould has hit on 193 of 224 of his field goal attempts, making him the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history.
DALLAS COWBOYS (2-1)
Coach Jason Garrett: Record: 15-12
Career record vs. Smith: 0-0 | Career record vs. Bears: 0-0
Last week: Defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-10
Key stat:The Cowboys allow the fewest yards per game (250) in the NFL, which goes down as the club’s lowest total through the first three games in 16 years.
Offense rank in 2011: 20th (342 ypg). | Defense rank: 1st (250 ypg).
Offensive leader: Tony Romo could be on the run against the Bears, who lead the NFL in sacks, and that could turn out to be a positive for the Cowboys, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Since 2010, Romo has thrown the most touchdowns (12) without an interception on throws outside the pocket, including two so far this season. Romo is 23-9 against NFC teams outside of the club’s division.
Defensive leader: LB DeMarcus Ware ranks third among active players in sacks 103.5, including four this season. Since 2005, Ware has produced an NFL-best eight games in which he generated three or more sacks, and has 25 multi-sack outings on his resume and has led the league in sacks since entering the league. Ware is coming off a seven-tackle, two-sack performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
•Ware has posted a sack in four consecutive games, his seventh such streak since entering the league. He’s also the only player currently in the NFL to post six consecutive seasons with 10 or more sacks.
•A victory would give Dallas consecutive wins on Monday night, and five in its last six outings on Monday night.
•The Cowboys have played in front of sellout crowds in each of their last 179 home games.