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Recent trends highlight battle between Eagles’ offense and Bears’ defense

The opposing units have been moving the needle...

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Volume stats are fun, but they don’t get down like efficiency metrics. For instance, you can look at the Chicago Bears’ defense and decide that their 7th ranked pass defense and 11th ranked run defense doesn’t match the hype. That’s if you’re going by yards, which are mostly empty calories.

What makes the Bears’ defense elite, along with their undeniable talent, are their efficiency metrics. For starters, they’re allowing the least points per game in the league (17.7). They’re the top ranked DVOA defense according to Football Outsiders, with the 1st ranked pass defense and 2nd ranked rush defense.

This isn’t to say there’s no hope for the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. They’ve met a top 10 DVOA defense six times this year and put up decent enough numbers. In those games they average 23.3 points with five games featuring Carson Wentz as the starter and one game with Nick Foles. In Week 16 against the Houston Texans’ 7th ranked defense the Foles’ led offense put up 32 points.

The Bears have played a top 10 DVOA offense four times. In those games they’ve allowed an average of 21.3 points, with a low of 6 points and a high of 38. That’s not exactly lights out for either team, but both teams have been trending well overall.

Looking at the last four weeks, the Eagles’ 27.3 points per game are the rubber to the Bears’ 10.5 allowed road. What happens when said rubber meets said road? It will largely depend on drive efficiency, which takes matters to an even more granular level. Looking at it that way presents a gruesome picture.

Outside of time of possession, the Eagles rank in the middle of the pack for all these categories, but they’ve been trending up.

Adding on to these impressive totals is the Bears’ ability to limit quick-strike drives and explosive plays. No team has allowed less 20+ yard plays than the Bears, They’re 6th in allowing drives of five plays or less, where the Eagles have struggled offensively (26th). But again, teams aren’t always what they were in Week 1, or Week 8, or even Week 12.

Highlighting that point, the Eagles’ offense has shown the ability to hit quicker scoring drives in the past four weeks. They’ve executed 7 drives of five plays or less in the past four weeks. No team has more in that span.

On the flip side, the Bears defense haven’t changed their stripes, in fact they’ve only improved in this area. They’ve only allowed one such drive in the past four weeks (t-1st).

By now you’re noticing an obvious trend. The Eagles’ offense is finding their groove, while the Bears defense continues to annihilate enemy charges with increasingly brutal efficiency. Offensive performance tends to be sticker from week-to-week, but the Bears have shown the ability to buck that trend.

Last year the Eagles’ faced a similar challenge in the NFC Championship Game. You might remember that they put up 38 points on a historic Minnesota Vikings’ defense. Can they do it again?

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