The Chicago Bears will host the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at 3:40 pm CST in the first round of the NFL playoffs. For the Eagles, it will be their second consecutive year in the playoffs after making them last season on their road to a Super Bowl title.
As for the Bears, this will be their first time in the playoffs since 2010, where they made it to the NFC championship game.
Sunday afternoon will be electric at Soldier Field. It may be the only home playoff game for the Bears this postseason, so fans are going to go all out. It’s never easy knocking off the defending champs, but there are several reasons why I love the Bears’ chances on Sunday.
Here, I will give my initial thoughts and feelings about Sunday’s Bears-Eagles matchup.
Defense Will be the Difference
Look, I respect the Eagles, especially coming off a Super Bowl title last season. However, the Bears’ defense will ultimately be the difference in this game. The Eagles haven’t seen anything like the Bears’ defense this season. Defense. Still. Matters. The Bears have proven that. They will again on Sunday. The Bears’ front seven is just too strong compared to the Eagles’ offensive line.
The Bears can run the football now. There were some concerns about that early on this season, but those questions have been answered over the past four weeks. Matt Nagy isn’t afraid to run the football in big spots. That’s huge, especially when winning time of possession can have such a big impact on the outcome of games, especially in the playoffs. Kyle Long being healthy again is also huge.
Alshon Jeffery in Chicago
Eagles’ WR Alshon Jeffery will finally get to play in a playoff game at Soldier Field. It will be for the opposing team though. Apart of me is nervous that Jeffery will have a Steve Smith type game against the Bears but with Eddie Jackson coming back and Kyle Fuller playing the best football of his career, Vic Fangio should find a way to keep Jeffery under control.
Doug Pederson vs. Matt Nagy
The coaching matchup on Sunday is going to be awesome. Both Matt Nagy and Doug Pederson are fearless and there is going to be a chess match going on at Soldier Field. The question is who is going to make the best decisions? We know that both coaches aren’t afraid to make gutsy calls in big moments. The two also worked together for six years under Andy Reid. Right now I give Nagy the upper hand because he has the better defense to rely on.
Who Will be the Eagles’ QB?
Nick Foles has bruised ribs and will get an MRI on Monday. All reports say Foles will ready to go, but there should be some concern going up against the Bears’ talented front seven. One hit by Khalil Mack could mean Nate Sudfeld is in the game. Carson Wentz will also get an MRI this week to determine what his status is going forward. No one expects Wentz to be back until next season, however.
One fun storyline from this game will be Kyle vs. Chris Long. This is Kyle’s first time in the postseason, while Chris will be playing in his third postseason. In his first two, Chris has won two Super Bowls one with the Patriots and one last year with the Eagles. I wonder how much they will talk this week?
Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Eddie Jackson, and Aaron Lynch should all be back for the Bears on Sunday. Gabriel and Miller were both injured in Sunday’s win vs. the Vikings. While Robinson was hurt last week in SF. Everything Nagy has said indicates that the Bears will be at full strength against the Eagles.
Holding Back for the Playoffs?
Over the last two weeks, with a division title already clinched, the Bears’ offense has looked a bit vanilla. Could it be Nagy trying to keep things simple for Trubisky or could it be the Bears were saving some things for the playoffs? I tend to agree with the latter. Nagy is a creative mind, who will do whatever it takes to win. With that being said, he also understands it’s best to rely on his defense at times, instead of taking a chance with his young, inexperienced QB.
It’s way too early to be making predictions, but I’m going to make one anyway. I believe the Bears will beat the Eagles on Sunday at Soldier Field. Their defense is just too good, especially with Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson coming back. The Bears make a few more plays than the Eagles in this one.
Bears 31 Eagles 21
Is it Sunday yet?
— The Loop Sports (@TheLoop_Sports) December 31, 2018
Follow Nick on Twitter @PetroTLS
Credit: NBC Sports