The Eagles, coming off a three-game stretch on the road, will host the Chicago Bears at 1 p.m. Sunday in what looks like a very winnable game.
But will the Birds actually pull off the "W"? Here’s what our four beat writers think.
I’m not quite there yet.
I think a lot of people are expecting the Eagles to roll against the Bears, the Birds coming off that impressive win in Buffalo, Chicago having lost three in a row. I dunno. I think the Eagles’ pass defense is an iffy proposition in any game that doesn’t feature rain and gale-force winds. I think the Eagles’ offense still remains limited until it proves otherwise; to me, the idea that DeSean Jackson might finally take the field again doesn’t translate into “all is suddenly well.” Let’s see if he really does play, and what sort of DeSean we get.
The Eagles’ current offensive recipe, as Carson Wentz called it, is to lean heavily on the run game, to move the ball but also to eat up clock, keep the vulnerable defense off the field. The Bears are tied for third in the NFL in run defense per carry, giving up an average of 3.6 yards. They average 86 rushing yards per game against, which ranks fifth.
I really like Bears coach Matt Nagy. I’m not real high on his quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, and boy, could the Bears use Jordan Howard. So I’m not picking Chicago to win. I am picking the Bears to cover the generous five-point spread.
When I see completely healthy, effective versions of Jackson, Nigel Bradham and Timmy Jernigan, maybe I’ll feel differently about what rung on the NFC ladder the Eagles inhabit. Right now, I think any game against a team with a stout defense is cross-your-fingers-and-hope.
Prediction: Eagles 19, Bears 17
The Bears have fallen on hard times, but many (including yours truly) foresaw a step back for the fightin’ Matt Nagys. There’s only so long you can cover for having Mitchell Trubisky as your quarterback. I don’t think he’s as bad as he’s looked in recent weeks, but he is coming off a shoulder injury and is seemingly playing as if he has the weight of Chicago on his back.
The Eagles’ defense offers an opportunity for Trubisky and company to get back on track because, you know, it’s not that good, even after the Bills’ win. But I think that having the Jalen Mills-Ronald Darby cornerback combo on the outside and probably Avonte Maddox in the slot ahead of Sidney Jones will continue to stabilize Jim Schwartz’s unit. I’d be worried that Allen Robinson, and Taylor Gabriel can get loose deep, but Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham and the defensive line have been coming around.
Offensively, the Eagles have been inconsistent, but they’re still averaging more than 25 points. That’s not great or anywhere near the number some had thought they’d score this season, but they should have enough Sunday, even against an above-average defense. DeSean Jackson could return, which would certainly help Carson Wentz and the passing game. But I think the Eagles can win some battles up front and get former Bears running back Jordan Howard and rookie Miles Sanders going.
I don’t want to suggest that the Eagles have turned the corner. They easily could lose this game and head into the bye at 4-5. Chicago has lost three in a row and has more on the line. But I just don’t believe in Trubisky, and Schwartz has consistently found ways to confound lesser quarterbacks. The first home game in four weeks also should aid the Eagles and give them enough to cover.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Bears 17
It’s safe to say the Eagles will get Chicago’s best shot Sunday, but I think they’ll hold up.
The Bears have a very productive pass rush, and I think the defense as a whole will give the Eagles trouble. They’re also coming off a three-game losing streak and definitely starting to feel their season hanging in the balance, which makes me a little nervous picking the Eagles.
But the Eagles defense is getting healthier each week, there’s a chance some continuity in the secondary could fix the miscues that have buried them quite often this season, and Fletcher Cox is starting to look like the difference-maker the team needs him to be. Chicago has yet to exceed 250 yards passing this season, so I’m not sure the Bears will be able to capitalize on the Eagles’ troubles containing deep passes. I don’t think Mitchell Trubisky can make the Eagles pay the way others have this season.
If the Eagles can establish the run, control the ball, and limit defensive mistakes, I think they’ll eke out a low-scoring victory and go into their bye week at 5-4. They have done well against lackluster quarterbacks this season, and I expect them to get to Trubisky and keep the Bears offense at bay much like they did against Buffalo.
If I have a main worry, it’s their coming out flat against a Bears team trying to right the ship after losing three straight.
Prediction: Eagles 17, Bears 10
Ten months ago, the Eagles needed a double-doink to beat the Bears in the playoffs. The double-doinker in question, Cody Parkey, was released. But his replacement, Eddy Piñeiro, missed 33- and 41-yard field-goal attempts last week in a one-point loss to the Chargers, and Eagles kicker Jake Elliott has made all nine of his attempts. So if it comes down to a field goal Sunday, which is very possible, I like the Eagles’ chances.
Even if it doesn’t, I like their chances. They more or less survived three weeks on the road and are back in the warm-and-fuzzy confines of the Linc. Well, warm and fuzzy until they fail to convert a couple of third downs or fall behind by 10-0.
The Eagles are getting healthy. Their two starting corners, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, both are back, and Avonte Maddox is expected to return this week.
DeSean Jackson returned to practice this week, but was a limited participant Wednesday and Thursday. My guess is the Eagles will hold him out until after the bye week.
But even without Jackson, the Eagles should be able to beat the struggling Bears, whose quarterback is 28th in passing and 32nd in yards per attempt. Also, the Bears’ ground game is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and has the fewest 10-plus-yard runs in the NFL.
The Eagles’ offensive line appears to be starting to hit its stride. The Bears held them to 1.8 yards per carry last January, but the Eagles didn’t have Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard then.
Zach Ertz is overdue for a big game. The pass rush is getting better. This isn’t going to be a blowout, but I think the Eagles will head into the bye with their second straight win.