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Bears vs. Eagles: Players Who Will Determine Outcome in Key NFC Matchup

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 20: Running back LeSean McCoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks for room to run as linebacker Bruce Carter #54 of the Dallas Cowboys chases him in the first half during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 20, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 17-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2013

In the case of the Week 16 matchup between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles, Christmas will come a little early for fans of the NFL

While games like the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans feature a clear Goliath taking on a proverbial David, this game features two good teams with plenty to play for. 

Philadelphia (8-6) currently holds the No. 3 seed in the NFC with the Dallas Cowboys just one game behind the NFC East. The Bears (8-6) find themselves in a similar positions with the 7-6-1 Green Bay Packers and 7-7 Detroit Lions looking to catch and surpass them in the North. 

With both teams looking to ensure their ticket to the playoffs, everything is on the line in this game. That means it's time for the biggest stars to step up and put the team on their shoulders. Here's a look at who will be the biggest factors in the game.

 

Brandon Marshall

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 15: Wide receiver Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears signals touchdown after catching a touchdown pass during the final minute of the first half at against the Cleveland Browns FirstEnergy Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Cl
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Lately, all of the attention involving the Bears has revolved around Alshon Jeffrey. That's warranted. The numbers he has put up in just his second year (80 receptions, 1,265 yards and seven touchdowns) are incredible and give fans a peek at a promising future for the former South Carolina Gamecock. 

But his emergence shouldn't cloud the brilliance and consistency of Brandon Marshall. 

While the bulk of Jeffrey's numbers have come when the Bears ultimately lose the game, Marshall has been a consistent target regardless of whether the team wins or not. 

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey Split Stats
ReceiverReceptionsYardsTouchdowns
Brandon Marshall in wins527006
Brandon Marshall in losses384854
Alshon Jeffrey in wins364303
Alshon Jeffrey in losses448354
Stats via ESPN.com

Jay Cutler played well in his first game back in more than a month against the Cleveland Browns last week. But it was Brandon Marshall who got him back in rhythm with a dominant first half. 

Marshall has done a great job of playing the role of veteran leader this season. He'll need to step up once again going against Philadelphia to pick up a crucial win. 

 

LeSean McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 15:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles breaks the tackle from Audie Cole #57 of the Minnesota Vikings on December 15, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

As the current leading rusher in the NFL at 1,343 yards through 15 weeks, it's obvious that McCoy is an extremely important cog in Chip Kelly's offense. But when the Eagles are taking on Chicago Bears defense that gives up a league worst 5.2 yards per carry? He's even more important. 

McCoy had one of his least productive games of the year last week against the Minnesota Vikings, but that was due to a lack of touches. He ran the ball just eight times. 

However, McCoy has remained positive this week and believes in Kelly's ability to get him the ball when necessary, per Sheil Kapadia of PhillyMag.com:

When the Eagles are able to feed McCoy the ball, they are nearly unstoppable on offense. If Kelly is able to stick to the run, "Shady" should feast on an easy matchup against the Bears porous run defense. 

 

Nick Foles

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 15:  Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles passes the ball while Audie Cole #57 of the Minnesota Vikings applies pressure  on December 15, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

With a clear mismatch in the Bears' run defense against LeSean McCoy, Chicago will have no choice but to bring up a safety in run support sometimes. When that happens, it will all be up to quarterback Nick Foles to make them pay for it. 

The second-year quarterback has been a revelation for the Eagles this season. They are 7-2 this season with him as the starting quarterback, and he's thrown 23 touchdowns to just two interceptions this season. 

The good news for the Bears defense is that those two interceptions have come in the last two games. The bad news is that he's still among the NFL's best this season at creating big plays in the passing game, per ESPN Stats and Info:

With Foles' proclivity for getting the ball downfield and the Bears inability to stop the run, the Eagles offense has the tools to score plenty of points on the national stage. The question is, can Brandon Marshall and the Bears keep up?

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