By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The Eagles are coming off an impressive win at the perfect time. They are looking to build off the momentum of last week and carry it into Sunday afternoon’s home match-up with the reeling Chicago Bears. Finally, a home game.
The Eagles are in a tough situation. With their record at 4-4, they find themselves looking up at teams in the playoff race. However, they are certainly within reach of a playoff spot, especially with the season only half over.
With that being said, if they want to remain in the thick of the playoff hunt, Sunday’s game is the type of game they cannot afford to lose. After this week and the bye week next week, the Eagles have two huge home games against the NFL’s elite: the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
Chicago is in desperation mode right now. They sit at 3-4, bad enough for last in the highly competitive NFC North. Worse than that is the fact that they have played such uninspiring football. The 2019 Bears look like a shell of the Bears team the Eagles faced in the playoffs just last season.
With the Bears hanging by a thread, the Eagles need to kick them while they’re down. The Birds need to take advantage of a team playing with an extreme lack of confidence.
Eagles Offense vs. Bears Defense
The Eagles had one of their best offensive performances of the season in Buffalo last week. Given that the Bills were the third ranked defense in the league going into the game, the onslaught was impressive.
Wentz had another efficient game, but wasn’t asked to do too much. Wentz actually impressed me more with his feet than anything else, as he picked up a couple of crucial first downs in the fourth quarter.
The running game was fantastic. All three running backs on the Eagles active roster last week scored a touchdown (even Boston Scott!). Miles Sanders had his most impressive game as an Eagle, even though he left the game early due to a shoulder injury. Jordan Howard continues to prove that he is the best runner on the team.
This week, the Eagles need to do pretty much everything they did last week. Pederson needs to continue to establish the run, and he can use Wentz and the passing game to take advantage of the defense starting to creep up to stop the run. Last week, Pederson called a great game, as he even mixed in some deep routes for receivers that usually wouldn’t be running them (Jeffery).
Hopefully, Pederson keeps those deep routes dialed up. It’s looking more and more like DeSean Jackson is finally going to make his return from an abdomen injury that has kept him out of the last seven games. Jackson might be on a snap count, but if that’s the case I’d expect that the offense will make his snaps count.
Good to see DeSean Jackson practicing for a second straight day. On track to return Sunday. Miles Sanders also practicing. He says he will play Sunday 👍🏼 https://t.co/mCJkZ9Z9JI— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 31, 2019
The Eagles offense will certainly face a tough challenge yet again this week, as they will oppose a vaunted Bears defense. The Bears defense has not been as dominant as last year, but I don’t think that is entirely their fault.
The unit changed coordinators with last year’s defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, taking the head coaching job in Denver. Furthermore, their defense has been on the field seemingly all game, as the Bears offense has been atrocious (more on that later).
The Bears defense still ranks in the top seven in yards allowed per game (316.57) as well as points allowed per game (17.43). Points could be at a premium for the Eagles offense Sunday afternoon.
The Bears defensive line has one of the best defensive ends of this generation in Khalil Mack. He is a force to be reckoned with in both the run and pass game. It is impossible to undersell his value to this defense, as he can easily take over a game and destroy an offensive game plan. The key for the Eagles this week will be neutralizing Mack as much as possible.
The rest of the defense contains plenty of studs as well. Linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith are incredibly dominant against the run. They anchor a unit that allows just 86 rush yards per game, good enough for sixth best in the league. The secondary is full of ball-hawking playmakers, with cornerback Kyle Fuller as well as safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (that is his real name) and Eddie Jackson, who is a pick six machine.
This is going to be one of those games for the Eagles offense where they keep the play selection pretty 50-50 between the run and pass in the early stages. Then, Pederson will stick with whatever is working best in the later stages of the game.
Injury Report: Bears at Eagles
Eagles Defense vs. Bears Offense
The Eagles defense played their most complete game of the season last week in Buffalo. I noted last week that the Bills offense was not great, and that it could be a good game for the Eagles defense to get back on track. They finally made me appear as though I somewhat know what I’m talking about.
They looked great in every facet of the game. They stopped the run well enough and were surprisingly dominant against the pass, as they got an enormous amount of pressure and even made some plays in the secondary. It was the first time this season when a pass was thrown, I wasn’t just assuming that it was completed. It was a joyous occasion; I almost threw a party.
All that being said, the Bills offense was pathetic last week. The Eagles defense, credit to them, made the plays that were there. However, their problems have not been solved.
The linebacking core is thinner than a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and they were atrocious against the pass last week. The secondary is still extremely suspect. Yeah, they played well last week, but they were playing a rag tag group of receivers. I want to see everything I saw last week against the Bills, but I need to see it consistently.
If the Eagles defense struggles this week, fire everyone. The Bears offense ranks in the bottom five in literally every single significant offensive category. They have the fourth fewest yards per game (281.43), fifth fewest points per game (18.29) and the fourth fewest pass yards per game (198.29). The only category they aren’t in the bottom five is rushing yards per game, where they are seventh worst in the league (83.14). Yikes.
Even more troubling than all of that is that those numbers don’t even do justice for how truly bad this offense is. The only reason those stats are even that high is because they will put up good stats in the fourth quarter when the fate of the game has been decided. Through the first three quarters of seemingly every game, Chicago’s offense has played awfully, and looked the part doing it.
A lot of that has to do with the performance, or lack thereof, of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Of the current starters, Trubisky has the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (182), and is tied for last in touchdowns (5) with four other players, including Drew Brees.
Brees has missed five full games, and three quarters of another due to injury. Trubisky has missed just a game and three quarters of another due to injury. Furthermore, during the time that Trubisky missed due to injury, which was a total of seven quarters, the Bears back-up Chase Daniel threw three touchdowns. To further convince you how bad Trubisky has been, here is a twitter thread that shows a play where the Bears quarterback chose to take a sack on a play where at least two of his receivers were wide open.
*record scratch*— Seth Galina (@SethGalina) October 21, 2019
Yup, that's me, Mitchell, and you're probably wondering how I found myself in this situation.
Well, it all started about 6 seconds ago when my coach, Matt Nagy, called the simplest RPO in the playbook!
~a short thread~ pic.twitter.com/ZJLYfrV2Fl
As for the rest of the Bears offense, the weapons at skill positions are actually fairly good, on paper. The duo of David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen at running back should form a solid combination of good rusher and elite pass catcher, respectively. Allen Robinson has been a very good receiver throughout his career, and has had a good season this year in spite of Trubisky. Trey Burton, former Eagle and Super Bowl LII hero, is also a solid tight end.
I think the biggest problem for the Bears this season, outside of Trubisky, has been the play-calling of head coach Matt Nagy. In this situation, I’m left confused, wondering what happened. Nagy was coach of the year last season, as he guided Chicago to a 12-win season and a home playoff game. The Bears offense looked like a playoff team last season. Not this year.
Chicago fans have heavily criticized Nagy for his refusal to run the football. They also ripped him for his decision to kneel the ball instead of attempting to gain more yardage once they were in field goal range to win their game last weekend against the Chargers. In typical Chicago Bears fashion, the kick was missed, and they lost the game.
As aforementioned, this is a game the Eagles need to win. They should win this game. I remain reluctant, though, because it feels like every time I’ve been confident in the Eagles, they have let me down.
That will not be the case this week. The Bears offense is only an offense in the sense that they are offensive to watch (ba-dum-tss). They simply will not score enough points to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Eagles win, 27-13. The Bears defense will keep them in the game, much like the Bills defense did through the first three quarters last week. The Eagles will start to run the ball down the throats of an exhausted Chicago defense in the second half. It will feel like the Eagles offense is on the field for most of the game.
Also, the Eagles are wearing their black uniforms this week. How could you pick against that? Please don’t make me look like a buffoon for saying that.
Time: 1:00 p.m.
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Online: NFL Gamepass