The Chicago Bears travel to Philadelphia with only one goal in mind, winning. Two weeks remain, but the Bears focus is on the Eagles and nothing else.
At 8-6, the Bears need to play playoff caliber football on both sides of the ball. The defense has stepped up the past two weeks, allowing the offense to get in a groove and not only win two in a row as they’ve averaged 41.5 in those two games.
The Eagles will be battling as well, since they sit at 8-6 and hold a one game lead over the reeling Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
With plenty at stake, both teams will be focused from the start. Jay Cutler and the offense should be able to move the ball effectively against a rather weak Eagles pass defense.
The spotlight will be on Cutler and his group, but the main key for success lies on the defensive side of the ball for the Bears.
With Lance Briggs likely back in the mix after sitting out with a shoulder injury since Week Seven, the Bears defense should be more relaxed. Having Briggs back provides solid leadership in the middle of the field, something this unit has been lacking since he went down.
Even if he isn’t at 100 percent or in complete game shape, Briggs will be helpful for the Bears in the big prime-time matchup.
Here are five players to watch on Sunday night in Philly.
The struggling third-year safety has 21 tackles and one pass deflection over his last three games. He needs to step his game up in this crucial matchup. He’s struggled in both pass coverage and run defense this season, but at times he has been in the right spots. The less you see of him the better. That typically means he makes less mistakes. Conte is playing for his future with the Bears. I think they need to find a replacement, but if he can play decent he can keep his spot on the roster moving forward.
The 5-8 corner has done a solid job at shutting down top wide receivers Josh Gordon and Dez Bryant the past two weeks. He has a tough cover in wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has 75 catches for 1,275 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Jackson is averaging about 91 receiving yards per game. He lines up out of the backfield often under first-year head coach Chip Kelly. He should be they key weapon for Nick Foles on Sunday night. Jennings only has three interceptions, but he has made an impact matching up well and deflecting 11 passes. This is a big game for the 29-year-old Georgia product, who will be a free agent at season’s end.
General manager Phil Emery recently came out and said that Bostic’s real future is at outside linebacker rather than his current position in the middle. He has struggled to shed blocks this season. The rookie has made eight starts, racking up 46 tackles, 35 solo, a sack and one interception. With the tough task of LeSean McCoy looming for the Bears, it is important for Bostic to be in the right spots more often than not. The University of Florida product will be under the spotlight plenty in this one.
Since his eight tackle, two-and-a half sack performance against the Vikings in Week 13, the 12-year veteran has posted just two tackles over his last two games. He needs to be more involved, because this defense is way better when they get a solid pass rush, especially from #90. The Eagles offensive line has kept Foles up right for most of the year, but against over-rated left tackle Jason Peters, Peppers should excel.
The “Black Unicorn” caught six passes for 71 yards last week, his largest catch output since Week Six in New York. He lost a fumble, that the Browns took to the house. It was on a play that Bennett simply tried too hard to earn the first-down. He needs to be smarter in the open field and to learn to accept defeat on a play when nothing is there. This is a nice matchup for him as he faces a Philly linebacking core that is average at best. Look for Martellus to have a big night. I think he will find the endzone in the first half of this one.
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