What to Watch for in Eagles-Bears
Indirectly, Thanksgiving turned out to be thankful to the Philadelphia Eagles playoff hopes.
The Dallas Cowboys lost a home game to the Los Angeles Chargers, their third consecutive loss, meaning a win today over the Bears and a Cowboys loss next week vs Washington, and the Eagles would clinch the NFC East. The Cowboys play on Thursday night against Washington, a Redskins win would put the Eagles in the playoffs without even playing.
Here are things to look at today vs Chicago.
Howard is a Handful: Bears running back Jordan Howard is one guy who can give the Eagles defense trouble. One thing the Bears do well is run the football, Howard is the third leading rusher in the league with 841 yards and had 125 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries Sunday in the Bears’ Week 11 loss to the Lions last week.
The Eagles have the leagues top rush defense, by far, giving up just 3.7 yards per carry and only 71 yards per game.
Overall, the Bear have the sixth best rushing offense in the league, with 131.8 yards per game. If they can run the ball, control some clock, the Bears have a chance to make this a game - so, stopping the run is going to be key.
The Eagles should be able to bring their safeties up into the box and help with the run with the Bears lack of weapons on the outside.
Take the Bears Serious: The Eagles can't allow themselves at this stage of the season to play down to the Bears talent level and not take them seriously. While the Eagles the Eagles have a firm lead in the NFC East, they still have their sights set on home-field advantage. They currently have just a half-game lead over Minnesota in he race for home-field, so now is not the time to lose focus playing an inferior opponent.
The Bears three wins this season are against three teams that would be in the playoffs if they started today; Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Carolina.
Run the Ball, Doug: While the Bears are sixth best in the league at running the football, Philadelphia is even better. They rank third in rushing yards with 144.6 yards per game. The addition of Jay Ayaji has added another dimension to the offense, coupled with LeGarrette Blount and rookie Corey Clement, Doug Pederson has done a good job of play-calling for all three guys, keeping them involved.
Today the face a Bears defense that is ranked 12th in the league against the run, giving up just over 100 yards per game (106).
Big game needed from the defensive line: The Philly pass rush will get to face rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in this game. The rookie has actually been better against the blitz this season then throwing from in the pocket, suggesting that he is still having some trouble reading defenses, so expect Jim Schwartz to rush four, and set back and show him different looks in the secondary.
The Eagles are getting pressure on the quarterback on 33% of drop backs the past five weeks, if they can get that with their front four, it could be a long day for Trubisky.
The Bears really have no receiving threat, so the Eagles should be able to cover and get to Trubisky early and often in this game.
Alshon's Revenge: Eagles wide out Alshon Jeffery signed a one-year deal with the Birds essentially because the Bears didn't attempt to bring him back. While he isn't having a breakout season with the Eagles, he has been more involved in recent weeks and could have a huge game against this Bears secondary. In 10 games this season Jeffery has 38 catches for 567 yards and six touchdowns.
The Bear have no real shutdown corner, with Prince Amukamara being their best, so expect a big game from Jeffery.
The Pick: Eagles 31, Bears 13