In a way, today’s game is terrifying.
OK, that’s a little dramatic. But stick with me for a second.
The Philadelphia Eagles have become so good that anything but a blowout against the Bears would be a disappointment. But since domination is the expectation, it won’t be all that exciting if/when it happens. In other words, it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot to gain here.
Of course, that’s not the case. The Eagles do need to keep winning in order to maintain their spot as the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff picture. An Eagles win over the Bears would also make it possible for Philadelphia to officially clinch the NFC East on Thursday with a Cowboys loss to Washington.
This situation is why a trap game feels a little less likely. The Eagles still have a lot to play for. And they’ve successfully avoided such “traps” all season along.
I fully expect the Eagles to win on Sunday. I wouldn’t be shocked, however, if the Bears put up some fight. They’ve played teams close relatively all season long. Their only two blowout losses came when Mike Glennon was starting. One of those losses was to Aaron Rodgers.
It’s not like Mitchell Trubisky is worlds better than Glennon. At this point, at least. But the Bears going with their rookie quarterback has encouraged them to more heavily rely upon the run. Chicago has the second lowest passing play percentage in the NFL at 51.83%. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars, who try to mitigate the negative impact of Blake Bortles, rank lower.
The Eagles are certainly well-equipped to handle the run. It’ll be tough for Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to go off against a Philadelphia run defense that ranks first overall in the league. The Eagles are just so stout up front. With that said, the Eagles did give up some decent gains to Alfred Morris in Dallas last weekend. Jim Schwartz’s unit can prove that was a fluke with a strong performance this week, which I think is likely.
While Chicago’s offense — plagued by bad wide receivers comparable to the 2016 Eagles’ corps — doesn’t scare anyone, their defense is solid. Football Outsiders has the Bears ranked 14th in defensive DVOA. They rank tied for 12th in opponent yards per play. Vic Fangio is an established coordinator in the league and John Fox obviously has a defensive reputation as well.
The Eagles shouldn’t — and won’t — be scared of Chicago’s defense. For one, the Bears are really banged up on that side of the ball.
The Eagles’ offense is firing on all cylinders right now. Carson Wentz is playing at an MVP level and the running game is reliable as ever ... no matter which running back is playing. Wentz will certainly be looking to get the ball to Alshon Jeffery early and often against the receiver’s former team. Jeffery has been heating up in recent weeks so that trend could continue in this game.
Besides a potential “Alshon revenge game” angle, this week’s tilt isn’t anything overly exciting. It’s a matchup that’s lacks any kind of real juice.
Ultimately, this is a “take care of business” game for the Birds. Beat Chicago and then get ready to go on a three-game road trip which features two NFC battles on the West Coast.
Score prediction: Eagles win, 28-14
Bold prediction: Alshon Jeffery scores four touchdowns
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