When the Chicago Bears travel to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles on Sunday night, a lot has to go their way in order to get the victory.
Both teams sit at 8-6 and own sole possession of their respective divisions (Eagles-NFC East, Bears-NFC North). They both control their own destiny at this point.
The Bears bring the second highest scoring offense (406 points) into this Week 16 matchup. Only the Broncos have scored more points (535) on the season than the Bears.
However, the Bears' run defense ranks dead last in the entire league, while the Eagles run offense is first in the league behind workhorse LeSean McCoy.
The Bears held the Browns under 100 total yards rushing last week, but McCoy is the most versatile back in the league, who has been thriving under Chip Kelly's guidance this year.
For the Bears offensively, they will attack through the air often as usual. Eagles starting cornerback Brandon Boykin returns after suffering a concussion in last week's road loss to the Vikings.
Here are the keys to a Bears victory on Sunday.
Protect Cutler, Slow Down Eagles Pass Rush
The Eagles defense has 32 sacks on the season, led by Trent Cole and Connor Barwin, who each have five sacks . Cutler was sacked twice last week on the road in Cleveland. In front of a loud Philly crowd on the road at night, Cutler will have his share of problems getting his offense organized. The Bears have to stay focused and that focus starts up front with the offensive line. If they can protect Cutler, the Bears should be able to put up 30 or more points against a very weak Eagles pass defense. Protecting Cutler from the Eagles edge rushers is a big key to success for Chicago on Sunday night.
Contain Shady McCoy
Eagles star running LeSean McCoy has racked up 1,343 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground this year. He is averaging five yards per carry and 95.9 yards on the ground. He is also averaging 36 yards receiving per game, as he ranks third on the team in receiving with 507 yards. The Bears' defense has had a tough time slowing down star backs this season, heck they made undrafted Rams back Benny Cunningham look like a stud. The possible return of Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs (questionable-shoulder) and the added presence of Jeremiah Ratliff should help the Bears a bit in this one. It won't be easy, but the Bears have some key players back in the fold, Briggs' return will help plenty especially with the communication in the middle of the field.
Get Matt Forte Involved Often
Matt Forte has been very good this season, there's no way around that fact. He is a similar type of back to McCoy. He should be able to be a nightmare for Eagles defenders. Forte has 1,200 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns this year. He is averaging 4.7 yards per rush and 90.7 yards per game. He is fourth on the team in receiving with 522 yards and two touchdowns. He's averaging just over 37 yards through the air per game. It should be fun watching McCoy and Forte go off for their respective teams. If Forte can run hard and make big plays out of the backfield in the receiving game, the Bears could be up big early.
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