FanPost

Eagles vs Bears Preview

   Philadelphia_eagles_v_chicago_bears_0-sjltuelxyl_medium

 

That picture makes Jay Cutler look sort of intimidating doesn't it? Looks can deceive you.

Kick Off Time: 4:15 Sunday

Weather Report: 44º Mostly sunny skies and warmer. Highs reach into the middle 40s, possibly 50s in southern sections. Southerly winds 10 to 20mph.

Injury Report:

Bears:

Pisa Tinoisamoa - Knee - Limited In Practice

Eagles:

Asante Samuel - Knee - Missed Practice

Juqua Parker- Hip - Missed Practice

Well, I was going to try my best to make this objective but Bears fans have ticked me off so objectivity is out the window for me. Maybe thats not what I meant, maybe not being being even-keeled is what I meant. Regardless, this post won't paint the Bears in a very positive manner because I don't believe they're a very good team if I'm being completely honest. Anyways here we go. 

I'll kick things off with this gem that shows just how overrated the Bears are. At the time of kick off the Eagles have faced 8 teams who either had winning records or .500 records. At the time of kick off the Bears have faced 2 teams who either had winning records or .500 records. That to me shows the Bears are beating weak opponents and aren't the team their record would indicate they are. 

I'd like to point out how terrible the Bears offense is so lets look at some stats from their offense, shall we?

19.1 Points Per Game

25th in the NFL

294.4 Yards Per Game

30th in the NFL

4.9 Yards Per Play

29th in the NFL

16.4 first downs a game

27th in the NFL

Convert 32% of their third downs

29th in the NFL

15 interceptions

28th in the NFL

74 collective QB rating

28th in the NFL

59.3 completion percentage

24th in the NFL

99 rushing yards a game

20th in the NFL

3.8 Yards Per Carry

22nd in the NFL

It should also be noted that the Bears have allowed 37 sacks this season, the worst in the NFL and they've allowed 64 QB hits, second worst in the NFL. 

The Eagles defense is top 7 in yards per play, the Eagles defense is top 10 in sacks, the Eagles lead the NFL in interceptions, the Eagles according to the DVOA numbers the have the 4th best pass defense in the NFL. They're the 13th ranked yardage defense, 6th ranked completion percentage defense and they only allow 6.6 yards per pass play, 4th best in the NFL, they're the third best QB rating against pass defense and they're #1 against both #1 and #2 receivers according to the DVOA.

And Since the 49ers game (when Antonio Dixon began starting and LB play really started improving) the Eagles have only allowed 3.6 yards per carry, 73.6 yards per game and .6 rushing touchdowns a game (2) and the only 2 TDs came in garbage time from Keiland Williams (total runs stats in 6 gams 120 attempts, 442 and 2 TDs).

The Eagles defense is playing as well as any defense in the NFL right now and they're going against one of the worst offenses in the NFL this weekend. Given how well the Eagles defense is playing, how poorly the Bears offense plays and how well the Eagles match-up with them I don't think it would be out of the question for the Eagles to pitch a performance that would hold the Bears to less than 10 points. 

Essentially, the Bears offense is terrible and the Eagles defense gets better as the season rolls on. Advantage: Eagles. 

To get a grasp on just how much the Eagles have the advantage, lets look at individual match-ups. 

Trent Cole vs Frank Omiyale:

We all know how good Trent Cole is so I don't really need to explain to you guys how great he is. Franklin Omiyale is one of the worst, if not the worst LT in football. He has allowed 8 sacks already this season and he has had 6 penalties. 

Antonio Dixon and Brodrick Bunkley vs Chris Williams and Olin Kruetz

Chris Williams was the LT out of Vanderbilt that a lot of us (or maybe it was just me) wanted. Thankfully we don't run the Eagles' scouting department. Chris Williams misses a TON of time to injury and has only played in 7 games this year, which is good for him. In those games he has allowed 3 sacks which is not good for an interior lineman. To put this into perspective, Reggie Wells, the guy the Eagles refuse to play only allowed 3.25 sacks in his last 32 games in Arizona. And Chris Williams is a terrible run blocker. When Matt Forte runs behind the left side of the line he only averages 3.3 yards and when he runs up the middle Forte only averages 2.7 yards per carry. The advantage is clearly in favor of the Eagles especially with Antonio Dixon's play. Since Antonio Dixon became a starter  the Eagles have only allowed 3.6 yards per carry, 73.6 yards per game and .6 rushing touchdowns a game (2) and the only 2 TDs came in garbage time from Keiland Williams (total runs stats in 6 gams 120 attempts, 442 and 2 TDs).

Mike Patterson and Trevor Laws vs Roberto Garza and Olin Kruetz

Well I didn't talk about Kruetz the last match-up so I'll talk about him a little bit here. Kruetz is a guy who is undersized but he is feisty. In terms of pass protection he is probably the best Bears lineman. Kruetz has only allowed 1 sack this season. In the run game his lack of size puts him at a disadvantage against big, strong physical guys like Dixon, Bunkley and Patterson. Combined Roberto Garza and Kreutz have only allowed 2.5 sacks which makes the right/middle interior line the best part of the O-Line for the Bears. 

Brandon Graham and Juqua Parker vs Joe Webb

One Bears fans proclaimed that Webb can't pass block to save his life, the stats tend to agree with that line of thinking. Despite only starting 6 games Webb has allowed 7 sacks and has committed 6 penalties. Webb is probably the worst individual player on the Bears' line. Because the Bears aren't doing particularly well when they run behind him either. Clear advantage Graham and Parker. 

In case you couldn't tell, the Bears o-line is flat out awful in every facet of the game. 

Eagles vs Greg Olsen

-The Bears fans really overstate how good Greg Olsen actually is and how big of a mismatch this is. Bears fans would have you think they've got the original Kellen Winslow lining up. But in reality his performance has him ranked as the 40th best TE in the NFL according to the DVOA. He only catches 52% of his targets. Olsen only has 322 yards and 4 touchdowns. Greg Olsen is athletic and the Eagles defense seemingly always struggles against athletic tight ends. The Eagles have struggled with Brandon Pettigrew, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez and Jacob Tamme this year but they're done more than respectable jobs against Jermichael Finley, Chris Cooley (twice) and Marcedes Lewis. I don't think this will be a big problem but in the interest of giving the Bears at least one match-up advantage I'll give Olsen the benefit of the doubt. And a little known fact, the Football Outsiders says the Eagles are the seventh best defense against tight ends in the NFL so if there even is a mismatch, its minuscule. 

Eagles' run defense vs Bears run offense

-I hit on this a couple times already and lets say it isn't close. The Bears run offense is terrible and the Eagles run defense is turning into a really good one.

Dimitri Patterson vs Johnny Knox

-Knox is fast and shifty but he struggles with physical players. Dimitri Patterson is a physical guy and he has shown he can run with fast guys when he played Anthony Armstrong

Asante Samuel vs Devin Hester

-Devin Hester isn't a good receiver, he hasn't even topped 300 yards this season and you probably couldn't name a corner playing better than Asante Samuel. CLEAR advantage Eagles. 

Those are most of the big one on one match-ups that will play big factors. I've got full confidence in Nate Allen and Quintin Mikell to continue to do what they've done all year which is make plays. The Eagles' linebackers are also playing the best football they've played in about 3 years after struggling early in the year. Ernie Sims still bites on fakes but his play has definitely improved as he gets more time in the scheme, Stewart Bradley is finally getting back to form as he has 21 tackles, 6 passes defended and 1 interception since the bye week. Moise Fokou has made a huge difference for the defense, he doesn't show up on the stat sheet but he is physical, attacks down hill, plays aggressive and doesn't get beat in coverage a whole lot, Fokou is the future at the SLB spot and is the Eagles best SLB since Emmons. The Eagles defense seemingly gets better every week and I don't think a game against the Bears' atrocity of an offense is going to change that. 

Oh and Jay Cutler hands out interceptions like they're candy. The Eagles are the best interception defense in the NFL. Advantage: Eagles. 

Bears Defensive Stats

290.4 Yards a game

3rd in the NFL

4.7 Yards a play

2nd in NFL

16.3 First Downs A Game

3rd in the NFL

31% First Down %

2nd in the NFL

60.8% Completion % Against

13th in the NFL

6 Yards Per Attempt

1st in the NFL

6 TDs Allowed

1st in the NFL

24 pass plays of 20+ yards

2nd in the NFL

66.4 QB Rating Against

1st in the NFL

2 pass plays of 40+ yards

2nd in the NFL

19 sacks

23rd in the NFL

15 interceptions

2nd in the NFL

3.5 yards per rush

3rd in the NFL

The Bears defense is really good. The Bears run a Cover-2 defense but not the typical cover 2 defense. Their defensive line while it isn't filled with great pass rushers, they flash the ability to control the line in the run game. Their linebacker play might be second to none in the NFL, Urlacher might have lost a step athletically but he has probably gained that step back with his mental game. Lance Briggs is the best WLB in the NFL and Pisa Tinoisamoa is playing as well as any SLB in the NFL. While the defense definitely can't be classified as aggressive, they blitz more than your typical Tampa 2 defense. Their corners are shielded a bit in the scheme and they're exploitable but solid safety play has covered up for them as well. The defense is very opportunistic as well, they grab more than their share of interceptions. The Bears defense while feasting on some scrubby offenses is legitimate. 

Here is where I think most Bears fans lose it. They look at their defenses' performances and say that since they shut down everyone else they can shut down the Eagles. Well what they can't seem to grasp is that the Bears have yet to face an offense as good as the Eagles'. 

No offense in the NFL has more big plays (pass plays greater than 25 yards and run plays longer than 10 yards). The Eagles are the best scoring offense in the NFC. The Eagles are the best yardage offense in the NFC. They're the best running offense in the NFC. They're also the 4th best passing offense (yardage) in the NFC. The Bears' defense has never faced an offense that has the weapons like the Eagles have. 

Lets focus in on some match-ups shall we? 

Jason Peters v.s. Julius Peppers

-Advantage? There is none. Julius Peppers is having a FANTASTIC year, he is getting all sorts of pressure and he is even defending the run. So why doesn't Peppers have an advantage? Jason Peters is having a fantastic year as well. How many of you can tell me the amount of sacks that Jason Peters has allowed this year? Stats LLC the NFL's official stat keeper gives him 2 on the year. Lets compare that to some others: 

Sam Baker

8 sacks allowed

Michael Oher

4 sacks allowed

Jordan Gross

3 sacks allowed

Joe Thomas

3 sacks allowed

Ryan Clady

6 sacks allowed

Jake Long

3 sacks allowed

Matt Light

6 sacks allowed

D'Bricshaw Ferguson

2 sacks allowed

Marcus McNeil

2.5 sacks allowed

Michael Roos

4 sacks allowed

Jason Peters is playing as well or better than any LT in the NFL right now. What about Julius Peppers in run defense? Well Jason Peters is an athletic freak for a guy as big and strong as he is and he puts his frame to good use when he run blocks. When LeSean McCoy runs behind Jason Peters he averages 8.6 yards per carry, that is INSANE. Just look at some of the biggest runs of the Eagles season. LeSean McCoy's run in the Colts game? To the left side. Jerome Harrison's run against the Redskins? Had a hole on the left side of the line you could drive a truck through. LeSean McCoy's TD run in the Giants game, great play design, great execution by Jason Peters getting out in front of that play and taking out Deon Grant

This is the premier match-up heading into this game. Best LT in the game right now (was Jake Long before he got hurt) versus one of the best defensive ends in the game. 

Bears Defense vs Michael Vick

Edge Vick, its not that the Bears defense is bad its just Vick inherently has an edge on any defense in the NFL. I'm actually wondering how the Bears will try and pull this one off seeing as just about every team has tried something different. The Lions and Giants tried the same thing, the Giants just had the personnel to run it better. The Lions and Giants sold out to get Vick with their pass rush and they applied constant pressure with blitzes. The Giants had a secondary that could respectably play against DeSean, Jeremy and Jason, the Lions did not and they got burned. The Jaguars and Colts told their defensive lines to pin their ears back, spy Vick and play zone against the Eagles and both of them got burned. The Redskins had the worst game plan, they saw teams tried to get after him and still got burned so somehow the Redskins got it in their heads that instead of going after Vick they would rather maintain gap discipline and let Vick scan the defense, the Redskins took a safety out of coverage to spy Vick which opened things up for DeSean and Jeremy and they played a cover 1 or 2 shell all game depending on who was spying Vick. Lets just say the Bears will be trying to avoid what the Redskins did. 

So since I've got no clue how the Bears will try to do I'll just link you guys to what Bears fans think the Bears will do. 

http://www.windycitygridiron.com/2010/11/25/1830002/how-the-chicago-bears-can-slow-down-michael-vick

*Word of advice, don't join, Bears fans are crazy. One keeps trying to tell me DeSean Jackson isn't THAT fast and that he isn't dynamic. And others tried to tell me that Manning was better than Quintin Mikell. They're also in denial about they're offense claiming that "it gets better every week" which is completely BS seeing as they scored 16 points last week.

I don't think the Bears will alter their their defensive approach much to account for Vick.

That my Eagles friends would be a mistake. Preparing for Vick the same way you would prepare to play a pocket QB is not smart. 

Expect a lot of zone coverages this week with the under part of the zone looking to rally to Vick if he takes off.  As a lefty Vick is more comfortable throwing down field when running to his left, so if he's scrambling left the Bears have to maintain their zone depth a little longer but they can still squeeze to the sidelines.  Also on those left scrambles Vick will look deep. The safeties can't get caught sneaking up to early on the threat of a run, stay deeper that the deepest until Vick crosses the line of scrimmage or chance getting burned by his big time arm.

If he's running right, as pointed out by Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football, he's more prone to tuck it and run.  The backside of the zone when Vick is scrambling to his right has to squeeze into the middle allowing the middle to attack Vick.  If Vick completes a throw back to the left across his body the Bears will live with it.

So what Bears fans think will happen is a bit romanticized. Keeping safeties deep will not work, sorry, everybody does that against the Eagles. You want to keep safeties deep? All of a sudden there is extra room underneath. Keeping safeties deep? Utilize LeSean McCoy, the league leader in YAC. Utilize Brent Celek who is good after the catch. Utilize Owen Scmitt, the best receiving full back in the NFL. Utilize Jason Avant underneath. I'd be fine with that really. Continually send Jackson and Maclin deep to stretch the defense and then just feed it to the other players underneath. And what happens when the defense is in coverage and the play breaks down, linebackers aren't filling gaps, they're in coverage, the safeties are deep and Michael Vick takes off, the Colts, Jaguars and Redskins all put their safeties deep like the Bears' blog proposed and Vick burned them for a combined 184 yards. If you're going to sell out to stop the deep pass all of a sudden there is more room underneath and who better to take advantage of extra running room than Vick? 

If the Bears want to stop Vick they better get the best performance of the year from their defensive line. The Bears need to pressure Vick but they don't have the talent in the secondary to apply pressure the same way the Giants did. Simply put, this game is going to be won in the trenches. If the Eagles offensive line gets the better of the Bears' defensive line the Eagles win this game, if the Bears defensive line gets pressure with their front four the Eagles offense could be in for a bigger fight than I would like. 

Eagles Offensive Line vs Bears Defensive Line

Moot. The Bears defensive line is big and strong, the Eagles offensive line is big and strong. This defensive is keeping blockers off of the linebackers and they're not getting pushed around. The Eagles offensive line pushes people around in the run game averaging 5.4 yards per carry, best in the NFL. 

The Bears interior pass rush is lacking and thats putting it nicely. Henry Melton is the only guy who creates a respectable interior pass rush. Anthony AdamsMatt Toeaina and Tommie Harris don't push the pocket at all. Michael Vick should have a nice clean pocket to step up into pretty much all game unless the Bears blitz. If the Bears afford Vick a clean pocket he'll kill them. 

http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/12270/eagles-soar-with-vick-perched-in-pocket

Vick is known for his ability to break contain and make plays outside the pocket. But this season, Vick has been especially dangerous when passing from inside the pocket, throwing 10 of his 11 touchdown passes and compiling a passer rating of 122.2 -- tops in the league (min. 75 attempts). 

Anthony Adams is a blob in the middle of the defense, a poor man's Mike Patterson. Matt Toeanina is a guy who is strong but he gets zero pass rush he is a homeless mans Brodrick Bunkley and Tommie Harris is a crack addict's Trevor Laws at this point in his career. They're a stout bunch but the Eagles have a powerful interior line. LeSean McCoy averages 4.6 yards per carry when he runs up the middle which is more than a respectable average. It'll be an interesting match-up between these two units. I'd also like to propose that the Eagles have the dirtiest interior line in the NFL, Herremans, McGlynn and Cole are three mean guys, they take no prisoners. 

One match-up that I'll have my eye on is Israel Idonije versus Winston Justice.

-Thats right, edge to Idonije. Why? Winston Justice has been a bit less than impressive, Tuck worked him last week and Idonije is just coming into his own this season. What makes Idonije such a tough match-up? Well physically he has the tools of Justin Tuck. He is big, strong and quicker than you'd expect. Winston Justice better bring his A game because we can't have Idonije getting pressure on Vick's blindside. Winston Justice has allowed 4 sacks on the season. 

And since I know a lot of you want to know how many sacks each Eagles' player has allowed I'll make a graph. 

Jason Peters

2 sacks allowed

Todd Herremans

2 sacks allowed

Mike McGlynn

3 sacks allowed

Nick Cole

4 sacks allowed

Max Jean-Gilles

0 sacks allowed

Reggie Wells

.5 sacks allowed

Winston Justice

4 sacks allowed

King Dunlap

3 sacks allowed

In the secondary the Bears just don't match up with the Eagles athletically IMO and I can't really see how one would say they do. If Vick gets the clean pocket that I suspect he'll get the Bears defense could be in trouble. 

But the real strength of the defense as I pointed out is Julius Peppers and the linebackers, who all deserve a trip to Miami for the pro-bowl. 

The Bears also have the advantage on special teams and have what is generally regarded as the best unit in the NFL coupled with the best return man in NFL history. We'll see what Bobby April, the best special teams coach in the NFL comes up with. The Eagles special teams has been getting progressively better at covering kicks over the course of the season, we'll see if that trend holds true this Sunday in what will be their toughest test of the year. 

Also one other thing that could affect the Eagles: Sloppy field conditions. 

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/nfl/news/story?id=5846667

With plenty of rain this week and a high school football game scheduled for Friday, the Soldier Field turf may help the Chicago Bears slow down Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

 

Another factor that will affect the game: The Bears have had 4 extra days to game plan for this game. 

All in all I think the Eagles are clearly the more talented team but there is something to be said for a hard nosed team like the Chicago Bears. The field conditions will be bad and the Bears have had extra time to prepare so that gives them a bit of a leg up. Overall I think the gap in talent between the two teams is just too much and the Eagles pull this one out. 

My prediction: 24 to 9 in favor of the Eagles

-The Bears defense will play the Eagles tough but I like the way the Eagles offense matches up with them. And the sloppy field conditions will affect the Bears too, they're not immune and I don't see that positively affecting an already anemic offense. The Eagles match-up really well with the Bears everywhere except special teams so the Eagles win it. 

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