It’s the week of Thanksgiving and hopefully you have a lot to be thankful for, but it’s unlikely that your favorite football is one of those things.
Sunday’s game is a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions, seemingly. The Eagles are zeroing in on the No. 1 seed in the NFC and planning for a deep run in January and the Bears are coming off of three straight losses and looking at a coaching change with another high draft pick.
However, the Bears might have a little bit more in common with the Eagles than at first appearance.
A season ago they were 7-9 behind the No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz with a decent defense (12th in points allowed) but a slight lack of weapons on the outside. That led to the the fourth-fewest touchdown passes in the league.
Now with former Bear Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor taking a step up, plus the boosted running game behind Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, the Eagles have the highest scoring offense in the league. Can the Bears follow Philly’s blueprint and get out of their rebuild?
SB Nation site: Bleeding Green Nation
Record: 9-1 (1st NFC East)
Last week: 37-9 thrashing of the Cowboys
Bears all-time record against: 30-13-1
Historical match ups: The Bears and Eagles have been playing since 1933. They have met once before on Nov. 26, way back in 1944.
The Bears won 28-7 off rushing touchdowns from three different players (Bob Margarita, Jim Fordhams and Gary Famiglietti) and Sid Luckman threw a touchdown to Rudy Smeja. The defense held the Eagles to two rushing yards.
Injury report: The Wednesday injury report listed four players on their injury report.
- K Jake Elliott was limited as he comes back from a concussion
- DT Allen Beau did not participate due to a knee injury
- TE Trey Burton was limited by a back injury
- S Rodney McLeod was limited by an oblique injury
Last meeting: 29-14 Eagles win on Monday Night Football in week two last season.
Jay Cutler threw a pick before leaving with an injury and being spelled by Brian Hoyer. Jeremy Langford rushed for the only offensive touchdown while Jordan Howard got just three carries.
Ryan Mathews scored two touchdowns and Wentz threw another.
Offense: The Eagles come into the game with an offense ranked first in points and third in total yards.
The passing game, led by second year QB Carson Wentz (2,430 yds./25 TDs/5 INTs), is 15th in yards but first in passing touchdowns with 25. Wentz is throwing to the aforementioned Jeffery (38 rec./567 yds./6) and Algohor (30/426/5) but the team’s leading receiver is actually TE Zach Ertz (45/536/6). Torrey Smith (18/249/2) is good for a deep ball every now and again.
Philadelphia deploys quite the backfield committee, with seven RBs with more than 10 carries. They rank second in the league in terms of rushing yards. Darren Sproles landed on injured reserve after three games but those other six backs are all receiving carries.
The leader is LeGarrette Blount (122 att./561 yds./2 TDs) but Corey Clement (54/232/4) leads the team in touchdowns. Newly acquired Jay Ajayi (15/168/1) is in the mix as is Wendell Smallwood (43/168/1) and Kenjon Barner (13/38/1).
Don’t be deceived by all those guys or by Carson Wentz’s background as a small school pocket passer QB, Wentz (50/224/0) is third on the team in rushing.
Defense: The Eagles is seventh on the defensive side of the ball in terms of yards allowed per game and points allowed per game.
The Eagles are first against the run, allowing opponents just an average of 71 yards per game on the ground for a 3.7 YPC. They have allowed just four rushing touchdowns, second fewest in the league.
Their pass defense, by the numbers is behind, ranking 19th in terms of yards allowed, however, opponents have been behind a lot and have been chucking it to play catch up. They’ve allowed the 14th most passing touchdowns, yet also have the second most interceptions.
The Eagles have two very good cornerbacks in Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson, who, along with safety Rodney McLeod, have three picks each.
Rasul Douglas has two picks and former Bear Corey Graham, Malcolm Jenkins and Ronald Darby each have one. That is a lot of picks for Mitch Trubisky to avoid.
Up front the Eagles boast a lot of pass rushers, starting with Fletcher Cox, who has 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and one touchdown. The sack leader is actually Brandon Graham, who has six sacks, three pass deflections and one forced fumble.
Derek Barnett (4.5 sacks), Chris Long (3), Vinny Curry (3) and Timmy Jernigan (2.5) are also lurking.
This is a talented bunch and will be a big force against the Bears’ run game and disruption of their pass game.
What to watch for: There is a chance that some of the Eagles’ coaches could be on a shortlist for Ryan Pace at the end of the season so see what you like or don’t like about their offensive gameplan.
There are several good match up storylines to watch as well: Kyle Long vs. his brother Chris and the Alshon Jeffery revenge game factor.
Key match ups: The Bears’ offensive line against the Eagles’ defensive line will go a long way to how long and how close the Bears can stay in the game. If they can hold their blocks and let the running game find some room, then Chicago can play their game.
On defense, the banged up defensive line and pass rushers, down Leonard Floyd and relying on a perpetually gimpy Pernell McPhee, will have to try to get pressure on Carson Wentz.
Kyle Fuller will have to shadow and slow down his former teammate as Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper work to slow down Zach Ertz and Algohor. But really, who is going to slow down Ertz?
Key stats: The Eagles have held opponents to less than 250 yards of offense for three straight games.
The Eagles have a seven game home winning streak going right now.
The Eagles haven’t allowed a 100 yard rusher since week 6 of 2016.
The Bears haven’t beaten a team with a winning record after their bye since they beat the Packers on Thanksgiving in 2015.
Do you think the Bears can pull off the upset?