Monday Night Football, it just sounds right for the Bears to be playing under the bright lights against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.
The Bears have won four of their last five games on Monday night and five of their last six in the primetime slot at Soldier Field dating back to 2008’s wild 20-17 victory over Green Bay in the winter chill.
This will be the 44th matchup between the Bears and the Eagles with the Bears holding a 30-12-1 record in the all-time series. It’s hard to forget Philadelphia’s 54-11 bashing over the Bears in 2013, the last meeting between the two sides.
However, Marc Trestman is long gone and now Chip Kelly is an afterthought for the Eagles.
Philadelphia upended Cleveland last week even with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz under center. Yes, it is just the Browns, but it’s impressive that a rookie from North Dakota State has learned so quickly. Give a lot of credit to his veteran backup Chase Daniel for helping him.
The Bears couldn’t finish the job in Houston, despite leading 14-10 at the break last Sunday. There were flashes, but the Bears are not a complete team. A visit from a young and injured Eagles squad could do wonders for the Bears’ confidence.
What the Eagles are thinking
Not making mistakes. Wentz is the guy for this offense and if you think about it, first-year head coach Doug Pederson is building Kansas City 2.0 in Philadelphia. The former Chiefs offensive coordinator has Wentz as his Alex Smith, Jordan Matthews as his Jeremy Maclin, Zach Ertz as his Travis Kelce and the combo of Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles as his Jamaal Charles.
They won’t take many chances downfield and if you think about it, they shouldn’t. If the Bears can take Matthews, their top target out of the game then that will force 2015 first rounders Dorial Green-Beckham and Nelson Agholor to make plays. Add in the fact that Ertz is likely not healthy enough to play and that will leave blocker Brent Celek and promising youngster Trey Burton as the options at tight end.
Defensive ends Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox are the top three rushers on this team, so it’s no surprise that the trio each recorded one sack apiece against the Browns. Graham should win most of his battles against right tackle Bobby Massie, a matchup the Bears have to be cringing about.
As a team, the Eagles held Cleveland to under 300 total yards of offense as they dominated the time of possession with nearly 40 minutes on their side. The Browns were able to run the ball effectively averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 21 rushes. However, 40 of their 120 total yards on the ground came on three Isaiah Crowell runs on the last drive of the game.
Philadelphia will see a heavy dose of second-year back Jeremy Langford and a decent amount of third-year bruiser Ka’Deem Carey. The Bears are going to establish their running game from the jump.
What the Bears are thinking
It starts and ends in the trenches. Jay Cutler was terrorized late in the second half against Houston as the Bears’ offense line allowed 13 quarterback hits and five sacks. On the opposite side of the field, the Bears’ defense had two sacks and eight quarterback hits.
Since 2001, the Bears are 9-1 facing rookie quarterbacks, so Wentz won’t have it easy. Especially since the defensive coordinator drawing up plays against him is as experienced as they come in Vic Fangio. Expect a good amount of exotic blitzes and perhaps some cornerback blitzes with Bryce Callahan or Jacoby Glenn.
Willie Young has to play better after being held off the stat sheet last week while Lamarr Houston should see an increase in snaps next to rookie Leonard Floyd. Floyd is in prime position to have a big night. Generating pressure will be key early and often to make the secondary’s job simpler.
For Cutler and company, Alshon Jeffery is in line for a very good game. After hauling in four receptions for 105 yards in the opener, he faces a Philadelphia defense that is expected to be without top cornerback Leodis McKelvin. Slot corner Ron Brooks and seventh round rookie Jalen Mills could be matched up with Jeffery. That’s good news for the Bears.
This offense however, starts up front and with a more successful rushing attack, that will open up dynamic plays for Jeffery, Zach Miller, Eddie Royal and rookie Kevin White.
Final Score Prediction
Bears 21, Eagles 17
I expect the Bears to do enough to rattle Wentz and take advantage of the injuries that the Eagles have currently. Adjustments will be needed to be made, but a win is here for the taking.
Eagles – OUT: TE Zach Ertz (rib) and CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring)
Bears – QUESTIONABLE: CB Kyle Fuller (knee)
Qwikcast.com Weather Report
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs around 90. Northeast winds around 5 MPH.
A look ahead
The Bears will travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys this Sunday night in primetime.
Read up on the five Bears players you should keep an eye on in Monday’s clash with Philadelphia, here.
Thoughts on the Eagles-Bears Monday Night Football matchup? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.
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