The Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) will begin the defense of the Super Bowl Sunday afternoon against the NFC North Division champion Chicago Bears (12-4) at Soldier Field. Will the Eagles recapture playoff magic or will the Bears defense pluck their feathers? Let’s check out the preview.
Quarterbacks: Nick Foles (1,413 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT) is back! After being the backup last season, he became the starter last season and became the Super Bowl MVP. This season, he was the backup again, but became the starter for the last three games of the season. Philadelphia had to win all three games to make it to the playoffs, and they were able to be victorious to close out the regular season. For the Bears, QB Mitchell Trubisky (3,223 yds, 24 TD, 12 INT) proved that he is a leader after only his second season. Advantage: The intangibles for Foles are unstoppable, so the edge goes to the Eagles.
Running Backs: The Bears are led by the dynamic duo of Jordan Howard (935 yds, 9 TD) and Tarik Cohen (444 rushing yds, 71 rec, 725 rec yds). Howard is a powerful rusher between the tackles, while Cohen is a threat every time he touches the ball. The Eagles have been hampered by injuries to their running backs, but Philadelphia has found a consistent duo down the stretch with Josh Adams (511 yds) and Wendell Smallwood (364 yds). Advantage: Bears.
Wide Receivers: For the Eagles, TE Zach Ertz (116 rec, 1,163 yds, 8 TD) is a receiving threat from his normal position or if he is lined up on the outside. Defenses cannot key on Ertz due to wide receivers Golden Tate (795 yds), Alshon Jeffery (843 yds), and Nelson Agholor (736 yds). The Bears are dealing with injuries to wide receivers Allen Robinson (754 yds), and Anthony Miller (423 yds). The receiving matchup will be intriguing as Jeffery played with the Bears two years ago and Bears TE Trey Burton (569 yds) played for the Eagles last season. Advantage: Eagles.
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Defensive Line: Both teams have some dynamic defensive lines. The Bears defensive line is led by DT Akiem Hicks (7.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles), and defensive ends Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols (3 sacks apiece). The Eagles also pressure from the inside and the outside with DT Fletcher Cox (10.5 sacks) and with defensive ends Chris Long (6.5 sacks) and Michael Bennett (9 sacks). Advantage: I call this one even because both lines will have to pay for doubling up on one lineman.
Linebackers: Khalil Mack. Nothing else needs to be said. The trade of Khalil Mack could go down as the best trade that was ever made by Chicago. Advantage: Bears.
Secondary: The Eagles secondary is led by S Malcom Jenkins (97 tackles, 3 forced fumbles). His leadership and his versatility allows for Philadelphia to change up their defensive looks from time to time. The Bears have a couple ballhawks in their secondary: CB Kyle Fuller (7 INT), CB Prince Amukamara (3 INT, 1 TD), and Eddie Jackson (6 INT, 2 TD). The health of Jackson is a question mark after he twisted his ankle a couple of games ago. Advantage: Bears.
Kickers/Special Teams: PK Cody Parkey has missed 7 FG and missed an extra point last week. Advantage: Eagles.
Last season, the Eagles defeated the Bears 31-3. Are the Bears able to make up 28 points in one season? I do not think so. My prediction is that the Eagles will win this game by the score of 27-24. The game will have a higher score than assumed because the weather will be in the 40’s for game time and both coaches love using different types of trick plays to keep the defense thinking.
Sources: Stats are from PhiladelphiaEagles.com and ChicagoBears.com. The pic is from Pixabay.com.