This is a game that we all saw coming when the schedule was released, but I am sure none of us thought it would turn out quite this way. Before the season everybody was buying the stock of the Bears, Eagles, Saints, and Cowboys. Right now the combined wins of the Bears, Saints and Eagles equals the wins of the 'boys. This is a big game, and that never changed, but instead of it being a match up of NFC elite it has become a fight for life in between to struggling franchises.
It is pretty safe to say that this is a must win game. Winning at Philadelphia would give us some much needed momentum and hopefully carry us to a home match with Detroit and into the bye week. The rest of our schedule isn't exactly a cakewalk, but winning two going into the bye would be a welcome sight for all involved.
Thankfully the leader of our team has already communicated the importance of this game and our performance throughout the rest of the year. Furthermore, I was impressed with the linebackers for taking blame in the tribune today. With Urlacher and Hillenmier leading the way asking that we not take out our frustration on Bob Babich.
"Bullet has been here just as long as Ron [Rivera] was," Urlacher said of the Bears' former defensive coach. "We're used to having him around. It's the same defense, the exact same defense, just different calls at certain times.
"It doesn't have anything to do with Bob. It's us. We're not making plays. We're not doing our jobs. ... He's calling good games."
Hillenmeyer spoke along the same lines.
"I just think things have gone so wrong that people are looking for a scapegoat," he said. "If they're pointing fingers at him, they're pointing at the wrong guy. You watch the film with us. It's not the plays called. It's the missed tackles and the blown gap-assignments.
"If you do what you're supposed to do, then the defense is going to succeed. It doesn't come down to us having the right blitz called or whatever. We don't need to trick people. We just need to play better."
It is very refreshing to see guys take responsibility for their failure on the field, but now they need to back it up. Obviously our defense has been hurting, but they been just plain bad bad as well. A couple of players are preforming well (Briggs, Tillman), but others are failing or struggling to play through injury (Harris, Archuleta, Urlacher, Hillenmeyer). The fact of the matter is that they haven't been preforming.
This is a huge game for both teams, and we have a big chance to preform.
Some key match ups for the game after the jump...
Donovan McNabb vs. Bears secondary: It is no secret that our secondary is the weak link of our underachieving Defense. Tillman has been a bright spot and helped us compete with Green Bay two weeks ago, but the rest of the group has been abysmal if not horrid. We can only hope that putting Danieal Manning back at his natural position of safety will help shore up our Defense. Unfortunately, players has been coy about who will start opposite of Tillman. Here's hoping its our 20 million dollar man Ricky Manning Jr.
Brian Westbrook vs. Bears front seven: Westbrook is one of the better backs in the league. Hopefully, our defense will shape up after getting absolutely smoked by Adrian Peterson last week. In any case you have to be wary when facing a back who is averaging 5.8 yard per carry and 10.4 yard per catch. We all know that our front four can pass rush, but they need to help against the run as well. The Linebackers have talked a lot about missing tackles and gap assignments and I want to see that talk translate into improved performance on the field.
Brian Griese vs. Eagles secondary: Our QB woes have been well documented by everybody from my Mom to my Barber. Griese has been providing us with an aspect of stability we haven't had in a while and the ability to move the ball up the field, but has had just as many miscues as Grossman (6 INT's) in the same amount of time (3 games). He has proved that he can handle the offense by utilizing both of our Tight Ends well and even hooking up with Devin Hester for an 81 yard special. However, for every good play there has been a bad one. For every good pass there has been one thrown out of the receivers reach. Even with his small amounts of success he hasn't been able to raise the play of our receivers. Although they haven't been helping much as it is.
Chicago run game vs. Eagles defense: The eagles defense may be ranked 7th over all statistically, but their run defense has been giving up 105.4 yards a game. Maybe I am scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but it sure would be nice to see some life from a running attack that has been horribly underachieving so far this season. I don't care weather they use Benson, Peterson, or Wolfe I just want to see some life in our running game.
Devin Hester vs. all takers!: He runs them back on Special Teams! He catches Griese's bombs for long touchdowns on offense! He does the Soulja Boy dance before he returns kick offs! Is there anything he can't do? Seriously, Hester is a threat at all times. In one way I am pleased with the coaching staff for bringing him along slowly in our offense, and we can only hope that his increased role will continue. Using him as a decoy is going to happen just by virtue of his being on the field. Before he caught that big pass he was getting double teamed on his routes in the game. Thankfully, we have been getting him on the field for a majority of the offensive snaps. Also, Griese mentioned in a TV interview that he has been working with Hester on long throws during the week. It encourages me that they are designing plays for this talent! I just hope that he continues to get used as a part of our offensive game plan because he is our game breaker on offense.
As far as his Special Team play is concerned he has been the subject of columnists and the object lesson of Easterbrook lecture on why you shouldn't punt to returners in the first place. Sheldon Brown of the Eagles has been quick to laud Hester with praise, but has also come off as over confident about containing him. As Vaughn McClure reports,
When will teams learn? At least one Eagles player is falling into the same trap as previous Bears opponents who saw no reason to kick away from Devin Hester.
"Why can't we [be] the first team to go out and make him ... fumble?" Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown told Philadelphia reporters. "We have players to do that.
"As a competitor and as a football player, if I go into the game and say I'm a coward and I'm not going to kick to him, then I have the wrong mentality. But the coaches are going to have to make that decision. They'll probably make the decision, which will be a smarter decision than we'll make, and probably kick it away from him."
We can only hope that the coaching staff of the Eagles decides to kick to Hester, but that dosen't seem like it will be the case. I just can't wait for the day when Hester returns a squib kick and everybody starts freaking out.
My prediction is that we will win this game 31-20. Our Defense will rebound and show some flashes of dominance. It will get out of its funk and get some turnovers and return one for a touchdown. We really need this game and anything less than a win will be very disappointing.
What do you most want to see from our team on Sunday?
This poll is closed
Devin Hester returning a kickoff/punt for a TD
Griese throwing for multiple TD's and no INT's
Benson running for over 100 yards
Our Defense forcing multiple turnovers
Devin Hester notching an Offensive TD