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Week 9 Game Preview: Bears-Eagles

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A playoff rematch with none of the luster. These two teams appear to be headed in opposite directions.

Philadelphia Eagles v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Circumstances were much different when these teams met nearly 10 months ago in the playoffs.

The game was hyped, the first Bears playoff game in eight years, the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, both teams coming in hot.

We all know what happened next, in fact I won’t even type out the onomatopoeia that is associated with the game.

In the NFL though, everything changes quickly and now both teams are sitting in the midst of tough seasons. The Bears have a losing record, have been getting booed at their home stadium on the regular and can’t seem to hold together anything on offense in season that once had sky-high expectations.

For the Eagles, it’s the defense that’s been the issue, although they’ve had some lackluster quarterback play at times as well. It wasn’t until they went on the road and beat the Bills to get back to .500 last week that playoffs once again seriously seemed viable.

When the schedule came out this seemed like it would be a marquee matchup of Super Bowl hopefuls. Now it’s just another game between a .500 team and a team looking to keep their season afloat.

Philadelphia Eagles

SB Nation site: Bleeding Green Nation

Game day/time/TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX

Record: 4-4, second in the NFC East

Last week: 31-13 win over the Buffalo Bills

Bears all-time record against: 30-15-1 (including 1-3 postseason)

Historical match up: The Bears and Eagles rivalry goes back to 1933.

The last time the Bears won in Philadelphia was on Nov. 7, 2011.

The 4-3 Bears and 3-4 Eagles met on Monday Night Football, Jay Cutler tossed two touchdowns to Earl Bennett and Matt Spaeth, Matt Forte rushed for 133 yards and Marion Barber scored a TD on the ground.

The Bears scored the final 13 points to pull out a 30-24 win. The defense held Michael Vick without a touchdown pass, while the Eagles scored two rushing touchdowns with LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown.

It would be the final meeting between Vick and Brian Urlacher. Urlacher finished the game with 11 tackles, a pass defensed and a tackle for loss.

Last meeting: Everyone knows what happened. Let’s just choose to remember that Mitchell Trubisky shook off his early bad performance and led the Bears on a late five-play, 33-yard drive to set up a would-be game-winning field goal.

The Bears lost 16-15.

Injury report: The Eagles listed eight players on their Wednesday injury report:

Full participation: CB Avonte Maddox (concussion), DE Josh Sweat (ankle)

Limited: RB Darren Sproles (quadricep), DT Tim Jernigan (foot), DeSean Jackson (abdomen)

Did not participate: RB Miles Sanders (shoulder), T Jason Peters (knee), LB Nigel Bradham (ankle)

Offense: The Eagles come into the game ranked 14th in points and 21st in yards.

Their passing offense ranks 21st in passing yards and 13th in rushing yards.

Led by Carson Wentz (62.1 cmp. pct./1,821 yds./14 TD/4 INT), the Eagles have been somewhat inconsistent but for the most part have been effective getting the ball to playmakers TE Zach Ertz (37 rec./424 yds./1 TD), former Bear Alshon Jeffery (30/317/3) and Nelson Agholor (29/261/3). Red zone threat Dallas Goedert (17/182/3) is lurking and deep threat DeSean Jackson (8/154/2) might be back after missing the last six games.

Their running backs also add some pass catching ability as Miles Sanders (19/274/1), Jordan Howard (9/68/1) and Darren Sproles (5/21/0) have each caught some passes.

On the ground they’re led by the former Bear Howard (100 att./443 yds./5 TD), who has found his role with Philadelphia, rookie Sanders (66/294/1) is solid as well. Wentz himself (33/129/1) is also mobile.

Boston Scott (16/68/1) and Sproles (15/59/0) also get carries.

Defense: The Eagles’ defense comes into the game ranked 14th in points allowed and 21st in yards allowed.

Their passing defense ranks 21st and their rushing defense ranks eighth.

Up front the Eagles are led by Brandon Graham (5 sacks/1 FF/8 TFL/10 QB hits), Derek Barnett (3.5 sacks/2 FF/4 TFL/13 QB hits) and Fletcher Cox (2.5 sacks/2 FF/4 TFL/3 QB hits).

Playing deep for Philly are safeties Rodney McLeod (45 tkls/1 INT/3 PD) and Malcolm Jenkins (37 tkls/3 PD/2 FF/2 TFL/2 QB hits) making plays.

The rest of the secondary has struggled at times this year but in total they have seven defenders with at least one interception so far this season.

CBs Ronald Darby (1 INT/6 PD), Sidney Jones (1 INT/3 PD) and Rasul Douglas (6 PD/3 TFL) are patrolling the defensive backfield in front of LBs Nigel Bradham (1 INT/3 PD). Bradham missed practice Wednesday.

Key match ups: The Bears OL vs. the Eagles’ DL. The Bears got the running game going a little bit last week and it helped set up some play action and led to the best things the Bears offense has done all year.

So Chicago will need to have that going for them again, however, the Eagles’ front is their strength and so opening running lanes and keeping the pocket clean for their shaky quarterback is a real key in this game.

For the quarterback, he needs to trust his eyes and find the open receivers, the Eagles have been playing better, but their passing defense has been leaky. Find your open guys, they will be there and get them the football accurately. Yes, that’s a tall order.

On defense, slow down the Eagles’ rushing attack. They like to use their run game to set up the pass and it flows through their committee backfield.

Carson Wentz has been turnover prone at times, so rattle him, get him off his game and he will throw you the ball, so the secondary has to be ready to make plays.

What to watch for: The Bears need to improve, obviously, on their red zone offense. They showed a little bit of an ability to move the football last week but couldn’t punch it into the end zone.

This week, let’s see if they can get that going. Then maybe there’s something to be salvaged. Will Matt Nagy’s playcalling be any better? That’s another key factor.

Key stats: The Eagles’ stats are coincidentally inverse of each other; They’ve rank 21st in offensive yards, 21st in points allowed, 14th in points scored and 14th in yards allowed.

They have 12 turnovers in their four losses and two in their four wins

Philly allowed an average of 63 rushing yards a game in their first five games, but in their last three games that exploded to 136.3 yards per game rushing to opponents

The Eagles are 2-1 at home this season, this is their first home game since week five (Oct. 6)

This is the first game this season the Bears aren’t favored in

What do the Bears need to do to get the upset road win?