Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Preview and Prediction

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 20, 2013

Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) catches a pass against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 48-30. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

As far as their playoff chances go, this game might not make a difference for the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, they'll know whether that's the case several hours before kickoff. But if the Cowboys lose earlier Sunday, a home win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football would clinch the NFC East.

Also making things interesting: If the Lions lose and the Packers win on Sunday, this game won't technically matter to the Bears. And if that happens, Chicago head coach Marc Trestman could even consider resting starters

For the sake of good competition, let's hope that both teams have something on the line, or that they at least play that way in the penultimate Sunday night game of the 2013 regular season. 

Assuming that's how things transpire, here's a preview of the matchup from Philadelphia's perspective, along with a prediction...

What Philly must do to win, offensive edition

Hit 'em with LeSean McCoy from the get-go. Nick Foles has looked a little rattled lately, especially early in games. The fact that Chicago's front seven has been terrible against the run makes this easy. Utilize the league's leading rusher as much as possible in order to take pressure off Foles.  

NFL's worst run defenses, 2013
Chicago Bears152.45.2
Dallas Cowboys129.94.9
Atlanta Falcons131.44.6
Pro Football Reference

What Philly must do to win, defensive edition

Take the ball away. Quietly, the Bears have the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL. Matt Forte is having a great year, and that receiving corps has been close to unstoppable. The Philly D is vulnerable, as we saw last week in Minnesota. So the key is to get some takeaways. During their five-game winning streak, the Eagles averaged 2.4 takeaways a game. But last week against the Vikings, they had just one. 

Five most important non-quarterbacks

McCoy: I mean, that's obvious.

Fletcher Cox and Trent Cole: These guys are the key to getting the rush going as well as stopping the run. Chicago has been well-balanced, so Philly needs its best defensive lineman and best linebacker to step it up. 

Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin: Meet Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. You'll likely get some help against them, but you'll still need to be stout in coverage. Both line up in the slot frequently, so a lot of pressure will fall on young Boykin. 

Injury analysis, Bears edition

The Bears might get linebacker Lance Briggs back, which would help quite a bit against McCoy and Co. Still, Briggs hadn't been fully cleared as of 1 p.m. ET Friday. Jay Cutler is also healthy again on the offensive side of the ball, which may not be a huge benefit, considering how well backup Josh McCown was playing.

The Bears defense is still a mess overall, though, with Charles Tillman, Henry Melton, D.J. Williams and Nate Collins all down for the year. That's why they've given up a league-high 5.2 yards per carry.  

Injury analysis, Eagles edition

Boykin, who had a concussion, has received medical clearance to return. That's huge, considering this matchup. He's a very good, young nickel corner. They might also get rookie safety Earl Wolff back, which would be very helpful when you consider how much his replacements have struggled. Anything to get Patrick Chung off the field.

The offense is very healthy. In fact, aside from some depth issues in the secondary, the whole team remains very healthy.  

B/R NFC East blog prediction: Eagles 30, Bears 27

This Eagles team is mentally tough, and I believe last week's hiccup in Minnesota was just that. They'll rebound in a big way at home against a Bears team that is still pretty terrible defensively and has only capitalized on a favorable schedule the last couple weeks. Philly clinches the NFC East in overtime on Sunday night.


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