The Philadelphia Eagles face a tough match-up on Sunday Night Football when the Chicago Bears come to town. Depending on what occurs in the Redskins-Cowboys game earlier in the day, the Eagles could have the chance to clinch the division with a win over Chicago. At the very least, this game will have implications regarding playoff seeding and it might determine the difference between the third and fourth seed in the NFC playoff picture. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly acknowledged that he will play his starters this week, so expect both teams here to give it their best effort.
The Bears' strength is their offense. First year Bears head coach Marc Trestman is experiencing some early success in Chicago. The Bears rank second in the league with 29 points per game and seventh in yards gained per game. Chip Kelly, aficionado of fine offenses himself, had high praise for the so-called Trest Coast Offense.
[I've seen a] lot of diversity. They do a really good job in attacking with personnel groupings and schemes. Sometimes it's six offensive linemen where one of the offensive lineman is actually playing a wing in the backfield. The first thing that jumps out is the talent at receiver. You have two really big guys that have great range and can go get it. Even when they're covered one on one doesn't mean they are covered. Then they’ve got maybe the most complete back when you look at [Matt] Forte in terms of his pass pro pickup, his ability to beat a receiver out of the backfield, then his ability to run. The one thing you admire, they didn't miss a beat when they went to their backup quarterback. I think that's a credit to the system that Marc is running up there.
Chicago's talent at wide receiver is no secret. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey are big, physical receiving threats that also block well. Marshall and Jeffrey have combined for a total of 170 catches, 2450 yards, and 17 TDs on the season. Meanwhile, the Eagles feature a struggling, injured secondary which was largely responsible for allowing 48 points to the Vikings last week. This week will be no easier for the Eagles' defensive backs.
No one is going to give us a waiver because we're banged up. That is part of what this deal is all about. We look at it as an opportunity to go out and compete against them. That's what we got, we’ve got a bunch of competitive guys, a bunch of competitive coaches that want to go challenge them. There is no better group of receivers to challenge yourself than those two guys that they can put out there in [Brandon] Marshall and [Alshon] Jeffery.
Last week against the Vikings, the Eagles struggled on special teams. Their plan was to keep the ball away from dangerous rookie return man Cordarrelle Patterson, so they executed by intentionally kicking off short. This strategy continued to backfire, though, because the Eagles defense couldn't manage to get stops on a shortened field. The Bears have a dangerous return man of their own: Devin Hester. He's yet another kick returner whom the Eagles need to game plan for.
It's a huge challenge. When you look at this game, everything is so close, there's not one factor you can overlook. The game may be determined on special teams. It's a big point of emphasis for us. But it's always been a big point of emphasis for us.He's a threat. They're different types of returners. He's as big a threat as there is in the league. Cordarrelle is more of a physical return guy because of his size, what he does. Devin is more of a speed guy I would say. He's just as big a threat in terms of every time he touches the ball, there's a potential for him to return it for a touchdown.
For as much as the Bears' offense excels, the Chicago defense is a weakness. The Bears allow the fifth most points per game and first most rushing yards. That's a match-up that favors Philadelphia, who owns an excellent rushing attack led by star runnning back LeSean McCoy. Kelly's offense will need to come up big against the Bears in order to give his team a chance to win. The Bears will be tough to stop on offense, so it's up to the Eagles to out-match Chicago's high-octane offensive performance.
Two games remain the 2013 NFL season. This match-up might not end up meaning much as far as playoff implications go, but it will be a good test to see where the Eagles stand after a letdown loss in Minnesota.