It’s the conclusion of wild-card weekend with a clash in the Windy City. The defending Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles, head west to face the Monsters of the Midway, the Chicago Bears, Sunday afternoon. Philadelphia punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 24-0 shutout on the road of Washington last Sunday in their regular-season finale. Chicago helped the Eagles and eliminated the Vikings with a 24-10 win on the road last Sunday to close their regular season slate. The Bears own a 29-12-1 edge in the all-time regular-season series though the Eagles have won three straight, including a 31-3 triumph at home in the last matchup on November 26, 2017. Philadelphia has taken two of the three playoff meetings, including a 33-19 road win in the last matchup which was an NFC Divisional Round matchup on January 19, 2002. To quote Apollo Creed in Rocky III, “There is no tomorrow!” Which team does that ring true for when it’s all said and done?
(get ready for full update with pick, quotes, videos and more on Friday)
A Quick Review of the Season to Date
Philadelphia Eagles Review
Philadelphia seemed to deal with a Super Bowl hangover as they got off to a slow start to the year. The team was 2-1 after three weeks but dropped five of their next seven contests. Philadelphia seemed dead in the water after getting thrashed 48-7 by the Saints in week 11. The Eagles were 4-6 at that point but won five of their last six games to sneak into the postseason. As it panned out, the Eagles needed to win in their regular season finale and get help from their eventual playoff opponent as the Bears faced the Vikings to close the year.
Philadelphia rode their defense in week 17, stifling the Redskins, while Nick Foles did his job with two touchdown passes. All told, the Eagles outgained the Redskins 360-89, held a 25-8 edge in first downs and dominated the time of possession by a 43:19 to 16:41 margin in the contest. Both teams turned the ball over once but Philadelphia was easily the better team in this one. The Eagles are 7-9 ATS on the season while the under is 9-7 in their games.
Chicago Bears Review
The Bears weren’t expected to be a major force this season as they were continuing their retooling process. The addition of young talent on both sides of the ball, helped make things move forward at a faster than expected pace. Matt Nagy taking the reins as head coach seemed to help the players connect with the coaching staff. Chicago started the year 3-1 and regrouped after back to back losses to Miami: it seemed like the Hail Mary that fell two yards short of the end zone against New England that could have tied the game in week 7 energized the team. The Bears won nine of their final 10 games to head into the playoffs on a high note.
Chicago took care of business against a division rival as they hammered the Vikings into submission and in the process, knocked Minnesota out of the postseason. The Bears are in the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and recorded their most wins since the 2006 team was 13-3 en route to a Super Bowl defeat. Chicago outgained Minnesota 332-164 overall, owned a 17-12 edge in first downs and controlled the clock by a 37:08 to 22:52 margin. There were no turnovers in the game but the Bears defense did enough damage in other ways to shut Minnesota down and earn the win. Chicago is 12-4 ATS this season while the over is 8-8 in their games.
Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?
Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense
Philadelphia was inconsistent when it came to running the ball this season. Part of that was due to injury issues that took original starting back Jay Ajayi out of the mix and some of it came from the fact that the Eagles were in big holes often in the first part of the season. That forced Philadelphia to throw the ball more often than they would have liked and forced them to abandon the run game at times. The Eagles managed to pick up more than 100 yards on the ground nine times during the course of the season, including in four of their last six contests. Philadelphia has sputtered a bit in the final quarter of the season, running the ball 100 times for 331 yards and three scores in their last four games.
Josh Adams led the team with 120 carries for 511 yards and three scores on the ground. Corey Clement (68 carries, 259 yards, two TD) and Wendell Smallwood (87 carries, 364 yards, three TD), along with Darren Sproles (29 carries, 120 yards, TD) are capable of doing damage. Philadelphia had just seven runs that went for at least 20 yards this season with Adams (four) and Clement (two) accounting for all but one of them. The Eagles moved the chains 94 times via the ground this season.
Chicago Bears Rushing Defense
Chicago was rough on opposing offenses no matter whether they tried to run the ball or go to the air. The Bears were stifling on the ground game by opposing teams as they allowed just four teams to run for more than 100 yards against them. Chicago’s worst games against the run came in week 6 against Miami, when they allowed 161 yards, and in a week 13 loss to the Giants, when they gave up 141 yards. Both those games were overtime losses for the Bears. Three of Chicago’s four losses came in games where they allowed more than 100 yards on the ground. On six occasions, the Bears allowed 60 yards or less on the ground.
Rookie lineback Roquan Smith led the Bears in the regular season with 122 tackles (89 solo), including eight tackles for loss. Danny Trevathan (102 tackles, eight tackles for loss, forced fumble, fumble recovery), defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (55 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles) and linebacker Leonard Floyd (49 tackles, nine tackles for loss, fumble recovery) are other key pieces in the front seven to stop the opposition on the ground. Chicago allowed opposing teams just seven runs of at least 20 yards and only 67 first downs via the ground this season.
Notable Rushing Statistics
Philadelphia Eagles Offense
- 24th in run percentage (38.18 percent of plays)
- 20th in rushing attempts per game (24.9)
- 28th in rushing yards per game (98.1)
- 30th in yards per carry (3.9)
- Tied for 20th in rushing TD (12)
- 30th in longest rush (32 yards)
Chicago Bears Defense
- 2nd in percentage of run plays against (33.76)
- 2nd in run plays per game against (21.2)
- 1st in rushing yards allowed per game (80)
- Tied for 4th in opposing yards per carry (3.8)
- 1st in rushing TD allowed (five)
- 3rd in longest rush allowed (32 yards)