Bears vs. Eagles: Breaking Down Chicago's Game Plan

Matt EurichAnalyst IDecember 17, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field on November 7, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears improved to 8-6 on the season after their 38-31 victory over the Cleveland Browns this past Sunday afternoon.

Quarterback Jay Cutler bounced back from a shaky first half that saw him throw two interceptions, and he finished the game with 265 yards through the air along with three touchdowns.

The Bears took over sole possession of first place in the NFC North Sunday afternoon and remain there after the Detroit Lions lost to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.

The Bears now control their own destiny and would win the NFC North and head to the playoffs if they win their final two games. Chicago could possibly clinch the division this Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles if the Lions and Green Bay Packers both lose on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday will mark the fourth time in the last five meetings that the Bears and Eagles will be playing on prime-time national television and the third time on Sunday Night Football since 2008 (with the two teams splitting those meetings). The Bears lead the all-time series 30-11-1 with the series dating back to 1933.

The Bears will try to improve to 9-6 on the season and form a tighter grasp on the NFC North with just one game remaining after their matchup with the Eagles on Sunday. In order to get that ever important ninth victory, there are a few keys to winning Sunday's game.


Slow Down LeSean McCoy

It has been no secret that the best player on the field this season for the Philadelphia Eagles has been running back LeSean McCoy. Despite the fact he was leading the league in rushing and coming off a game in which he ran for 217 yards the week before, McCoy ran the ball just eight times this past Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Eagles were forced to play catch-up against the Vikings, and McCoy understood his lack of carries, telling Reuben Frank of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia:

Sometimes being down so fast you got to go to something else. The type of competitor I am, I want the ball at all costs. But at times like this, when you have to throw the ball, it pretty much eliminates the running back.

While the Bears would love to be in a position in which the Eagles are forced to play catch-up, McCoy is likely licking his chops at the thought of facing the Bears' struggling run defense.

While they improved against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the Bears still boast the league's worst run defense, allowing 152.4 yards per game on average.

One part of McCoy's game that is scary is his ability to make others miss. He currently leads the NFL in rushing, racking up 1,343 yards on the season.

Week 14 against the Detroit Lions, McCoy showed off his speed and elusiveness on a very snow-covered surface in Philadelphia.

On 2nd-and-10 and the Eagles trailing the Lions 14-6, Philadelphia lined up with their "11" personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) with McCoy lined up next to quarterback Nick Foles in the shotgun (pictured below.)

NFL Game Rewind

Foles handed off to McCoy. and due to the terrific blocking up front from guys like Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce, he had a big hole to run through (pictured below).

NFL Game Rewind

McCoy's speed and elusiveness was not limited through the heavy snow, and he leaped over safety Louis Delmas (pictured below) before rumbling his way into the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown.

NFL Game Rewind

Gap integrity has been the demise of the Bears run defense this season, and facing an elusive back like McCoy will be another challenge for this struggling defense. The biggest keys will be to maintain that gap integrity and solid tackling.


Control the Clock

In order to keep the explosive Eagles offense off the field, the Bears will need to control the clock through the running game.

Matt Forte has been terrific this season both running and catching the ball, and because of an improved offensive line, he has had plenty of big holes to run through this season.

Against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football during Week 14, the Bears were able to utilize the strength and speed of two of their more unheralded players.

The Bears lined up with their "21" personnel (two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end), and they shifted fullback Tony Fiammetta to the right side of the formation before the snap (pictured below).

NFL Game Rewind

Upon the snap, right guard Kyle Long double-teamed the defensive tackle with Roberto Garza before making his way to the middle linebacker (pictured below) while Fiammetta attacked the weak-side linebacker.

NFL Game Rewind

Due to the big hole that was created (pictured below), Forte was able to gain 10 yards on the play.

NFL Game Rewind

By getting the guards and fullbacks into the second level, the opportunity for big gains increase incredibly. If the Bears want to slow down the Eagles' offensive attack, it will all begin with Forte and the blockers he has in front of him.