Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears

For this second NFC Wild Card Weekend matchup, the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles travel into the icy Midwest to take on the Chicago Bears in front their playoff-starved home crowd at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL, all happening on January 6 at 3:40 pm, broadcasted by NBC.

The 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles:

The 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles clinched a playoff berth in Week 17 after they defeated the Washington Redskins 24-0, but they finished a game behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East and ended up as the NFC’s sixth seed in the playoffs.

Despite losing starting quarterback Cason Wentz to a back injury, the Eagles have won five of their last six games with backup Nick Foles in a run to the playoffs that seems reminiscent of last season’s journey.

Philadelphia is just 4-4 on the road, they’re 6-6 against NFC competition and are the underdogs in this one by at least a touchdown, but with this team, miracles do seem to happen.

The 12-4 Chicago Bears:

The Chicago Bears clinched the NFC North division title in Week 15 by defeating the Green Bay Packers 24-17, but with two NFC playoff teams possessing better records by just one win, the Bears are forced to host the wild card game and take their chances against the Super Bowl defending champion Eagles.

Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been on a roll, leading his team to victory in nine of the last ten games, their only loss in that stretch oddly being to the hapless New York Giants in Week 13.

Chicago looks poised to win this one easily – they’re 7-1 at soldier field and 10-2 against NFC opponents, so it would take a giant meltdown for the Bears not to come out of this one with a win.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 44 times (including 3 postseason games), with Chicago winning 29 games and Philadelphia winning 14 games. The Eagles have won 3 of the last 5 meetings, their most recent one last season in November by a score of 31-3.

Whoever wins this matchup will go on to the Divisional Round of the playoffs next.

They’ll either play the number one seeded NFC team, the 13-3 New Orleans Saints, or the number two seed, the 13-3 Los Angeles Rams, but right now those games are listed as TBD (to be determined).

And of course, whichever team loses this one goes home, their 2018 season finally over.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this Wild Card Weekend Eagles-Bears matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Eagles and the Bears and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Eagles offense ranked 14th in the NFL

Philadelphia’s offense puts an average of 22.9 points on the board per game while moving the ball about 365.3 total yards every outing.

Quarterback Foles has only started five games during the 2018 season, and in that time he’s thrown the ball for 1,413 yards and 7 touchdowns with four interceptions, his completion rate an impressive 72.3.

Philadelphia’s best receiver is their tight end Zach Ertz, who’s caught 116 balls this season for 1,163 yards and 8 touchdowns, ranked 16th among NFL receivers.

Eagles’ rushing attack ranked 28th overall

Due to starting running back Jay Ajayi tearing his ACL in Week 6, the Eagles’ low-ranked rushing attack was mostly led by an undrafted free-agent rookie this season, Josh Adams, who ran 120 times for 511 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Back from injuring his hamstring before a Week 2 practice is running back Darren Sproles, but his touches have been limited, as has his output since his return in Week 13.

Philadelphia offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Wild Card Weekend: running back Wendell Smallwood (hand), wide receiver Mike Wallace (ankle), offensive tackle Jason Peters (quadriceps) and guard Isaac Seumalo (pectoral).

Starting quarterback Carson Wentz (back) is listed as Out for Wild Card Weekend.

The 2018 Bears offense ranked 21st overall

Though the Bears offense is ranked in the bottom third of the league, they’re a top-ten scorer, averaging 26.3 points per game and 343.9 yards of total offense.

In his second season, quarterback Trubisky has thrown for 3,223 yards and 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

Trubisky’s main target has been wide receiver Allen Robinson (55 catches for 754 yards and 4 touchdowns) and running back Tarik Cohen (71 catches for 725 yards and 5 touchdowns, including a 70-yard touchdown pass in Week 8 against the New York Jets.

Chicago’s run game 11th in the league

Not only can second-year running back Tarik Cohen catch the ball (see above), he can also run with it, which he did 99 times this season for 444 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Taking the brunt of the Bears handoffs is veteran Jordan Howard, who’s carried the ball 250 times in the regular season for 935 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Chicago offensive Injuries

There are no Chicago Bears offensive players listed as injured for Wild Card Weekend.

Eagles Defense ranks 23rd in the league

Opponents score an average of 21.8 points per game against the Eagles while moving the ball an average of 366.2 total yards each game against Philadelphia’s 7th ranked rush defense and 30th ranked pass defense.

The Eagles’ 10 interceptions are 25th most in the NFL, while their 44 sacks are tied for 8th most overall.

Eagles Defensive Players to watch:

Coming close to making the 100-tackle club this season are outside linebacker Nigel Badham and strong safety Malcolm Jenkins, who both totaled 97 regular season tackles.

With hard sacking Michael Bennett listed as questionable for this one (see below), quarterback hunting duties will go to defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who’s had 10.5 sacks in the regular season.

Leading the Eagles in interceptions is cornerback Rasul Douglas, who’s picked off three opposing quarterbacks so far.

Eagles defensive injuries

Listed as questionable for Wild Card Weekend: free safety Avonte Maddox (oblique), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (knee), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring), linebacker D.J. Alexander (hamstring) and defensive end Michael Bennett (foot).

Bears Defense is 3rd overall

The Bears are the stingiest NFL defense with opponents averaging 17.7 points per game (ranked first in the league) and just 299.7 offensive yards with a number one ranked rush defense and a 7th ranked pass defense. 

Chicago is first in the league when it comes to interceptions with 27 in the regular season, and their sack total of 50 is tied for third most overall.

Bears Defensive Players to watch:

Not only does rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith have 5.0 sacks, he also has 121 combine tackles with 6 passes defended and an interception.

Outside linebacker Khalil Mack is phenomenal – he has 12.5 sacks, 47 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 5 passes defended and a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The Bears have two of the top-five ranked interceptors in the league – cornerback Kyle Fuller, who’s tied for most picks in the NFL with 7, and free safety Eddie Jackson, who’s not far behind with 6 interceptions, ranked fourth overall.

Bears Defensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Wild Card Weekend: safety Eddie Jackson (ankle) and linebacker Aaron Lynch (elbow).

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters:

Philadelphia’s second-year punter, Cameron Johnston, signed as an undrafted free agent last season, has punted 61 times for a net average of 42.7 yards per punt, ranked T-3rd in the NFL.

Chicago’s punter, Pat O’Donnell, is a fifth year pro who has punted 62 times for a net average of 39.7 yards per punt, ranked T-17th in the NFL.

Placekickers:

Philadelphia’s placekicker, Jake Elliott, promoted from the practice squad last season, has gone 26-for-31, his longest was a 56-yarder.

Elliott has missed two extra point attempts (33/35).

Chicago’s placekicker, Cody Parkey, was a free agent pickup this offseason and has gone 23-for-30, his longest was a 50-yarder.

Parkey has missed two extra point attempts (42/45), both in a Week 10 game where he also missed two field goals, all four kicks hitting the uprights.

Punt Returners:

Philadelphia’s punter is running back Darren Sproles, currently ranked T-30th in the league in return average.

Sproles has returned 10 punts so far for 83 yards, averaging 8.3 yards per return, his longest for 14 yards.

Chicago’s punt returner, running back Tarik Cohen, is ranked 11th in the league.

Cohen has returned 33 punts for 411 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 12.5 yards per return, his longest for 44 yards.

Eagles–Bears prediction and odds

The odds makers have the Bears favored over the Eagles by 7 with an over/under of 41.0.

CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:

Ryan Wilson goes with the under and has it Bears 20, Eagles 17

John Breech takes the under and predicts it Bears 20, Eagles 17

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