Tale Of The Tape: Chicago Bears At Philadelphia Eagles
- QuarterbackThe Bears control their postseason destiny following Detroit’s loss to Baltimore. Jay Cutler and head coach Marc Trestman would have faced serious questions if the Bears had lost to the Browns in Week 15. While Cutler started slowly, he threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bears to an important victory.The Eagles had been rolling, but they fell flat in Minnesota and dropped a key game against the Vikings. Nick Foles has been the key to the resurgent Eagles’ attack. While he has excellent physical tools, his ability to read opposing defenses and find the open receiver has been the key to his success. Foles is an excellent decision maker and he has looked comfortable in the Philadelphia offense.
- OffenseThe Bears have one of the most dangerous and versatile offensive teams in the NFL. Matt Forte can make big plays in the running game and as a receiver. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is simply too big and too strong for most opposing defensive backs to cover. Second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery has superb hands and can make near-impossible catches. Martellus Bennett is a find receiving weapon.The Eagles have gotten much improved play from their offensive line this season, and that has made it much easier for their superb skill-position players. LeSean McCoy is perhaps the best all-purpose running back in the NFL. He can break the long run and also make circus catches. DeSean Jackson is a dynamic playmaker, while Riley Cooper has seven TD receptions.
- DefenseThe Bears have lost their identity as a strong defensive team. They rank 27th overall and are a miserable 31st against the run. The Bears have been shorthanded much of the year, but there’s a good chance star linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) will be back this week. The Bears need Julius Peppers to turn up the pass rush heat or Foles could have a big day.The Eagles have struggled on the defensive end as well, as they rank 30th overall and 31st against the pass. While those numbers are not good, the Eagles defense played much better during the five-game winning streak that ended against the Vikings. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans has a team-high 116 tackles and 4.0 sacks. Cornerback Brandon Boykin leads the Eagles with four interceptions.
- Special TeamsThe Bears have given up one kickoff return for a score this year, but they have been fairly solid in their punt and kickoff coverage. Devin Hester has a punt return for a touchdown and remains dangerous. Robbie Gould is one of the best placekickers in the league.The Eagles have struggled quite a bit in coverage as they have given up one punt return and two kickoffs for touchdowns. They rarely make big plays with their own return teams. Placekicker Alex Henery has had an average season, making 21-of-26 FG attempts.
This looks like an offensive showdown as long as winter weather doesn’t impact this meeting. The Bears may be able to raise their defensive game if Briggs returns. Look for this game to come down to the final possession.