- Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders
Upset Watch appears every Thursday this season for ESPN Insider, as Football Outsiders uses a proprietary formula to forecast the expected point spread of each game based on current DVOA ratings (explained here) and, early in the season, our DVOA projections. Each week we highlight the most likely upset on a game with a line over three points, plus an additional game where a significant underdog has a strong chance to cover.
Upset Watch: Chicago (+3.5) at Dallas
This line suggests that oddsmakers see the Cowboys as a little better than the Bears, but our numbers disagree. Before the season, our preseason projections had Chicago as the second-best team in the NFC, while we projected Dallas to be roughly average. Through three games, we've seen something close to that. Chicago ranks fifth in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, while Dallas is 18th.
The biggest difference between the teams comes on special teams, where the Bears can change field position but the Cowboys rarely do. So far this year, the Bears rank second in the Football Outsiders special teams ratings, while the Cowboys are just 29th. These numbers are a continuation of last year, when the Bears were first and the Cowboys 25th. Devin Hester is a substantial weapon, of course, but the biggest gap may be between Chicago kicker Robbie Gould and Dallas' Dan Bailey.
Otherwise, Dallas and Chicago are actually fairly similar teams right now.
17hEric D. Williams
17hSharon Katz & Hank Gargiulo