The Eagles travel to Chicago for their playoff matchup against the Bears on Sunday (4:40 p.m., NBC10).
Our four beat writers predict the outcome.
I can’t say I know the Chicago Bears as well as I would like, but there are a lot of playoff matchups I think would be worse for the Eagles than this one.
I think these Eagles would be most vulnerable to an experienced, elite quarterback with an array of Pro Bowl-level weapons and a strong offensive line in front of him. That isn’t how I see Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears.
It is quite possible that Kyle Fuller, Khalil Mack and the Chicago defense will gobble up Nick Foles turnovers and send the NFC’s sixth-seeded playoff team home quickly, as the oddsmakers expect, but I’ve been impressed with a lot of what I’ve seen from the Eagles these past several weeks. I’m gonna ride with Foles and a strong O-line, and with Jim Schwartz. Maybe looking for some Darren Sproles magic, in a tight game.
Prediction: Eagles 19, Bears 17
Even playing at home, where they won seven of eight games this season, the Bears hardly are unbeatable.
Jordan Howard isn’t Ezekiel Elliott or Todd Gurley. The Bears own the sixth worst overall rush average in the league and have averaged just 3.9 yards per carry on first down.
Mitchell Trubisky has played pretty well in his second NFL season, but he’s not going to put the fear of Drew Brees in the Eagles.
My concern is with the Bears defense. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson can handle Khalil Mack. But the Eagles need to be able to run the ball at least a little bit against the Bears, and I’m not sure they’re going to be able to do that.
If they can’t run the ball, then you’ve got Nick Foles dropping back about 50 times. And the only thing that will accomplish is a bunch of turnovers and the first postseason action of Nate Sudfeld’s career after one of the Bears’ pass-rushers uses Foles’ chest for a landing area.
Prediction: Bears 24, Eagles 20
This is going to be a close game — I think. The teams are evenly matched in nearly every category. There isn’t one team that has a distinct advantage in terms of matchups.
The Eagles defensive line vs. the Bears O-line has, to me, a slight edge against the Bears D-line vs. the Eagles O-line. Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett and company should get pressure vs. the Chicago line. But Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and the rest of the Bears’ seven-man front will be a tall task for the Eagles.
Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery are playing at a high level entering the postseason, but the Bears secondary is led by Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Kyle Fuller. The Eagles secondary has settled down some, but Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc are inexperienced.
Chicago doesn’t have anyone at the skill positions, though, who can’t be covered by one defender. The multifaceted Tarik Cohen is probably the Bears’ biggest weapon, but I expect safety Malcolm Jenkins to keep him in check. Chicago coach Matt Nagy has done a wonderful job catering to the skill set of his players, but there’s been a cap at quarterback with Mitch Trubisky. He can be forced into mistakes, and I think that will ultimately be what gets the Eagles over the top.
Nick Foles has a history of mistake-filled games, but not when there’s so much at stake. Doug Pederson’s play-calling, with the quick-pass game, will help. But Foles will outplay Trubisky, and that will be the difference in what is essentially a toss-up contest.
Prediction: Eagles 17, Bears 16
The Bears have an outstanding defense, they’re 7-1 at Soldier Field, and they’ve won nine of their last 10 games. So there’s a lot to respect toward Chicago, which is why they’re the biggest favorites among all the weekend games. But quarterbacks matter in January, and I trust Nick Foles more than Mitchell Trubisky in a big game.
Of course, the Bears defense can bring an ugly performance out of Foles, especially if he throws the ball up for grabs. And Khalil Mack can wreck a game plan. But I like the Eagles' defensive line against Chicago’s offensive line more than I like the Bears’ defensive front against the Eagles’ offensive line.
The Eagles aren’t going to have much success running the ball against Chicago, and Foles must play a good game to give them a chance to win. My guess is the Eagles defense commits to stopping the Bears from running the ball and Trubisky doesn’t make enough plays. If Trubisky extends drives with his feet, that could be the difference.
But the teams that will most hurt the Eagles are those with a top-level quarterback who neutralizes their pass rush and picks on their secondary. I’m not sure that will be the Bears this weekend, which is why I predict a low-scoring game and another week of football for the Eagles.