The Chicago Bears (3-4) take on the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) on Sunday in a rematch of last season’s playoff game. The Bears lost 16-15 in a Wild Card game against the Eagles that’s most remembered by Bears’ kicker Cody Parkey’s infamous missed field goal, dubbed the double doink.
The Bears hope to make that loss ancient history. However, the Bears lost last week against the Los Angeles Chargers 17-16 when kicker Eddy Pineiro’s 41-yard field goal veered wide left.
Despite coming off a season in which the Bears and Eagles made the playoffs, both teams have had disappointing starts. The Bears currently sit in last place in the NFC North division, while the Eagles are second in the NFC East. There is tough competition in the NFC with 10 teams at a .500 or better record, compared to eight teams in the AFC.
“It gets harder and harder the more you lose and we want to do everything we can to go 1-0 and get that win,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said at a press conference Thursday.
The Bears will line up against some familiar faces when they play the Eagles. Eagles’ wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey was drafted by the Bears and played with them from 2012 to 2016. Eagles’ running back Jordan Howard was also drafted by the Bears and played for the team from 2016 to 2018. Howard leads the Eagles with 443 rushing yards this season.
About the decision to part ways with Howard, Nagy said, “We were in a time where we went a different direction, sometimes change is good for everybody. We’re happy he’s doing well.”
The Bears’ defense will have to slow down Howard and Jeffrey as well as an Eagles offense that’s putting up 25.3 points a game (14th in the NFL).
A big challenge will be to stop the Eagles’ run game that’s averaging 125 yards per game. The Bears’ defense has been limiting opponents’ rushing yards for most of the season, ranking sixth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (86.0).
The Bears’ defense has been keeping the team in close games, giving up only 17.4 points a game (T-5th in the NFL). However, the Bears offense needs to find a way to put up more points.
“If there’s an opportunity to make a play, we’ll make a play,” Nagy said, “we want to put it all together.”
There were signs of life last week in the Bears running game. Running back David Montgomery carried the ball 27 times for 135 yards and a touchdown. The offense will need to keep up that momentum against an Eagles defense that has been stingy against the run.
“It was good to put together a good week of the run game, but now we want to do everything we can to try and follow that up,” Nagy said.
Maybe the Bears can take note of the Washington Nationals who won the World Series on Wednesday, becoming the first team to manage five come-from-behind wins when facing elimination.
When asked if he used the Nationals playoff run to inspire his players, Nagy said, “How do you not show that to your guys and let them pull from that. That’s a really cool moment for them and that should be something that all of us can learn from in the sports world.”
Former Bears offensive lineman and WTTW News football analyst James “Big Cat” Williams gives us three key takes on what the Bears need to do to beat the Eagles.
Big Cat Take #1: Ground Game
The Bears are going to need to build on the run game that they found against the Chargers last week. Montgomery accounted for 27 of the team’s 38 attempts and 135 of their 162 yards rushing.
Big Cat Take #2: Mack Sack Attack
Defensively, linebackers Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd need to take advantage of either a banged up Pro Bowl offensive tackle in Jason Peters or his backup Andre Dillard.
Big Cat Take #3: Finish Drives
Play calling and execution in the red zone will be key. The Bears must find ways to get touchdowns and not field goals against a formidable defense in Philadelphia.