For the first time in 10 seasons, the Chicago Bears are in the playoffs. To make things even better, they are hosting a playoff game at Soldier Field. The Bears will be playing the defending Super Champion Philadephia Eagles Sunday afternoon.
It’s going to be an electric atmosphere.
Is it just me or do the majority of Eagles’ fans seem overconfident right now? Look, I get it, your team just won the Super Bowl last season and made the playoffs for the second year in a row, but let’s stop saying they are as good as last year because that’s far from the truth.
The Bears are coming off an impressive 12-4 season with big wins against the Vikings (twice) and the Rams, who were the favorite before the season to represent the NFC in this year’s Super Bowl.
Sunday afternoon is going to be a lot of fun. Here, I will list four things I will be watching for when the Eagles and Bears finish up wild-card weekend.
Let’s get into it.
1st Down: Thank you, Alshon Jeffery
Former Bears’ WR Alshon Jeffery gave the Bears some bulletin board material this week.
Alshon Jeffery with an early nominee for quote of the year.
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 2, 2019
Wait, there’s more.
More Alshon Jeffery, on what it’s like playing at Soldier Field: “The field is terrible.
"When I was there, we always used to tell the equipment manager that you gotta change the field, get the field better. I’m just saying: It’s terrible.”#Eagles
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) January 2, 2019
Jeffery later said he meant nothing negative by his comments, but it’s comments like this that can give a team some added juice. I’m not sure why any player would want to give a defense like the Bears added motivation, but I’m not complaining.
Let’s not forget Jeffery’s time in Chicago was more about battling injuries than opposing defenses. He also tested positive for using PEDs in his final season with the team. You can bet the Soldier Field faithful will let have Jeffery have it on Sunday.
2nd Down: Health
All three of the Bears’ top wide receivers had injury issues over the last two weeks. The good news is it looks like all three will be ready to go against the Eagles. Head coach Matt Nagy said he liked the way the wideouts were coming along in practice.
We also found out that rookie Anthony Miller has been playing the entire season with a shoulder that fully dislocates at times. He never considered shutting it down either. You have to love that, especially coming from a rookie.
As for safety Eddie Jackson, he also made his return to practice this week. He will have to test his ankle again in pregame warmups, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t play in the biggest game of the year.
The Bears will need Jackson to neutralize Nick Foles and his ability to make plays downfield.
3rd Down: Mitch Trubisky/Offense
Call me crazy, but it’s felt like Matt Nagy and the offense has been dialed back a bit in the last two weeks. Hell, even Tarik Cohen hasn’t been getting the same amount of touches we’re used to seeing. Could that be by design? I think yes.
It seemed like Nagy was getting a “feel” for certain plays against the 49ers. It was hard to tell last week with all of the injuries though. Sunday afternoon, I believe Nagy will lay it all on the table for the Bears’ offense and QB Mitch Trubisky.
By now, you probably have heard that the Eagles’ secondary isn’t very good. Trubisky will have open receivers, he will just need to find them and be accurate, which has been an issue for him this season.
In the second half of the season, the Bears’ run game has come to life. It will be interesting to see how Nagy and his staff decide to attack the Eagles’ defense.
4th Down: Prediction/Other Thoughts
If you would have told me the Bears would be hosting a playoff game in August I wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are. The Eagles, Vikings, and Seahawks all scared me. There was not one team I thought would be an easy matchup for the Bears.
The defending Super Bowl champions will be a tough out. However, it’s hard not to like the Bears at home in this spot. They were 7-1 in the regular season at Soldier Field and I don’t see that dominance changing this weekend.
Give me the Bears over the Eagles. Let’s get to LA!
Bears 31 Eagles 23
Follow Nick on Twitter @PetroTLS