When the Chicago Bears hired Marc Trestman as their head coach, it signaled that they were going to be an offense-first style team, and that was welcome news to all of the skill position players on the roster. Perhaps more than any of the others though, Matt Forte has taken the new freedom afforded him by the system and has literally and figuratively run with it.
So far this season in 12 games, Forte has rushed for 971 yards and seven touchdowns, and he also has caught 58 passes for 445 yards in those games. He has been especially dominant over the past three games for the Bears, racking up over 100 total yards in all three of the contests. He was at his best in the Bears’ Week 13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, rushing for 120 yards and catching two passes for 31 yards in that game.
Forte also used the game as a springboard to get past Neal Anderson on the team’s all-time yards from scrimmage list, where he now ranks second behind all-time great Walter Payton. He has a really big hill to climb to get to that milestone, but playing against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night should provide him with a great opportunity to build on his numbers.
There are several reasons for this, but it begins with the Cowboys’ putrid rushing defense. They have been dealing with tons of injuries all over the place, including to key contributors like DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee, and even though they are getting those guys back, the Cowboys still have a defense that has allowed 1520 rushing yards this season, which is the most of any team in the NFL.
Adding to those woes will be the forecasted weather at Soldier Field. With a forecasted high of just 26 degrees on Monday (and a forecasted low of just five degrees above zero) and winds expected to kick up to nearly 20 MPH, the run games of the two combatants will be even more critical, and with Forte’s aggressive approach lately, things could get ugly for the Cowboys.
How ugly, you may ask? In 13 games where the temperature has been under 40 degrees, Forte has rushed for 918 yards and four touchdowns, and also has 48 receptions for 361 yards in those contests. Three of those games came in “frigid” conditions, with the temperature below 21 degrees, and in those games Forte has averaged 77.7 yards per game on the ground and five receptions per game as well.
Needless to say, cold weather always adversely affects offenses more than defenses in football, but with a guy like Forte who somehow seems to thrive in cold weather despite his upbringing (and college days) in Louisiana, the Bears may have the critical edge in this matchup to help keep their playoff hopes alive.