The Chicago Bears are the sole occupants of first place in the NFC North. There are a few permutations of results that keep Chicago in the playoffs, but at the end of the day the simplest route is: win. If the Bears win out, they’re the NFC North champs and get a home game in the first round of the playoffs. To do that, Marc Trestman’s squad must go on the road and defeat the Philadelphia Eagles, who are in a division race of their own. Let’s preview this Sunday night melee!
(8-6) Chicago Bears at
(8-6) Philadelphia Eagles
What you need to know about the Eagles franchise:
Their fans berate their quarterbacks as much as we do. They haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 2004, and haven’t won one since 1960, when it was called the NFL Championship. They run a high-tempo offense under Head Coach Chip Kelly, who left Oregon in the offseason for the greener pastures of the NFL. After thinking Mike Vick was his starter, an injury forced in the back-up…
Nick Foles, who tossed freaking eight touchdowns in one game earlier this season. Foles has been nothing if not efficient this year, with 23 touchdowns and only two interceptions on his stat line. For a defense that almost solely relies on nabbing turnovers, the Bears are going to find opportunities rare against Foles, who has to at least be brought up in the MVP discussion.
Offensive Player to Watch
Le Sean McCoy leads the NFL in rushing yards. And now he gets lucky enough to face the worst rushing defense in the league. People love to think that Kelly’s fast offense is all about the pass, but the truth is that he loves to run the ball and Shady here is the main recipient of all those carries, turning them into long runs. He’s averaging five yards a carry in 2013, so you know he’s going to break off more than a few against this putrid front seven. 180 yards sounds about right to me.
Defensive Player to Watch
Inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans is a jack-of-all trades in the middle of the Eagle defense. He leads the team in tackles, and has four sacks, six passes deflected, and two interceptions to his credit. Philly has the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL, but Ryan’s presence (and probably the lack of attempts because teams love to pass on them so much) contributes to their rank as the 16th best run defense.
Philadelphia is a three point home favorite.
How can the Bears win?
Uh… hope McCoy sprains an MCL? Chicago will have their hands full on defense, so the occasional stop or turnover could prove the difference. Cutler and the offense could have their way against a lackluster secondary, likely turning this game into a shoot-out. Just put more points on the board. I think that’s how you win in today’s NFL.
I’ve gone back and forth on this outcome, but I just don’t think the Bears can go on the road and get this win. I’m saying Eagles defend their turf.
How many heart attacks will Joe suffer?
Well, that depends. This game could be meaningless by the time it kicks off. If Green Bay wins and Detroit loses, then it doesn’t matter what the Bears do in this game. Week 17’s match-up with the Packers will decide the division regardless. It’s a similar situation for Philly. If the Cowboys beat Washington then the game means nothing for the Eagles, as they’ll face Dallas in week 17. So if it means nothing for the Bears, I’m all about multi-tasking with the game on my iPad and video games on my TV. (Let’s face it, that won’t happen. I have too much of the NFL sickness in me.)
Get ready to root your Bears on, everyone! They’ll be needing it while they’re in Philly. Bear Down and Happy Jay Cutler Day!