3 Takeaways from Eagles' Week 15 Win vs. Bears

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2022

3 Takeaways from Eagles' Week 15 Win vs. Bears

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    Eagles QB Jalen Hurts
    Eagles QB Jalen HurtsMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Eagles got a bit of a scare from the Chicago Bears in Week 15, but they managed to outlast Chicago and improve to 13-1. Philadelphia is now a win away from clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

    For much of the season, Philadelphia has looked and played like the best team in football—and its record reflects this. However, the Eagles did not perform like a championship team for much of Sunday afternoon.

    Philadelphia struggled to run with consistency, quarterback Jalen Hurts tossed a pair of interceptions, and the Bears racked up 157 rushing yards on the afternoon.

    A win is a win, though, and Philly maintains a two-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings—along with the head-to-head tiebreaker—for the top seed with three weeks to play.

    Here's what we learned during the Eagles' Week 15 win over the Bears.

A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith Can Carry the Offense When Needed

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    Eagles WR A.J. Brown
    Eagles WR A.J. BrownMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Eagles have utilized a run-oriented offense all season, and it has served them well.

    Coming into Week 15, Philadelphia ranked second in rushing attempts and 26th in passing attempts. The Eagles have done well when passing (ranked third in yards per attempt coming in), but they have largely led with the run.

    Running was a little trickier against Chicago. Philadelphia did top 100 rushing yards, and Hurts ran for three scores, but the Eagles averaged just 3.4 yards per carry as a team. No player—not Hurts, not Miles Sanders—reached four yards per carry on Sunday.

    Yet the Eagles were able to generate enough offense because wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith took over the game. The duo combined for 14 receptions and 207 receiving yards.

    Brown, who was acquired in a draft-day trade, has been one of the best pickups in football this season, and he and Smith are as potent as any receiving duo in football.

    The Eagles still don't have tight end Dallas Goedert (shoulder), and opponents will look to shut down the run in the postseason. That will be easier said than done, though, because Brown and Smith will force defenses to be honest and carry the Eagles when the ground game isn't rolling.

The Eagles Will Be a Big Postseason Threat Because of Hurts' Dual-Threat Ability

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    Jalen Hurts
    Jalen HurtsQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    Here's another reason why it's difficult for opponents to key in on any one thing that Philadelphia does offensively. Hurts has become the complete package at quarterback thanks in part to his work ethic and dedication.

    "He works his butt off," head coach Nick Sirianni said, per Gabriella DiGiovanni of the team's official website. "He's always here. He's always in this building. It doesn't matter what time of day, it doesn't matter if the players are in that day or not—he's always here."

    Even when Hurts is having an off day in one phase or another, he finds ways to move the offense and put points on the board.

    On Sunday, Hurts averaged just 3.6 yards per carry, but he found the end zone three times on the ground. He threw two interceptions but also racked up 315 passing yards while averaging 8.5 yards per attempt.

    Hurts is an offensive force and is nearly impossible to completely contain. This makes the Eagles offense as difficult to defend as any in the NFL. As long as Hurts remains healthy, Philadelphia will be a tough out in the playoffs.

The Run Defense Remains a Concern as the Playoffs Near

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    Bears QB Justin Fields
    Bears QB Justin FieldsQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    If a team is able to contain Hurts and the Eagles offense in the playoffs, it will likely be by keeping them on the sidelines. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, controlling the tempo and the clock with the running game is a strategy opponents can employ.

    Despite adding Ndamukong Suh and getting rookie Jordan Davis back on the defensive front, run defense has been a problem for the Eagles. Philadelphia came into the week ranked 24th in yards per carry allowed (4.7).

    Bears quarterback Justin Fields gashed the Eagles for 95 rushing yards and 6.3 yards per carry. David Montgomery chipped in with 54 yards, and Chicago averaged 5.2 yards per tote on the afternoon.

    Philadelphia's inability to consistently defend the run is a potential postseason problem. Probably playoff opponents like the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers can move the ball well on the ground and could present matchup problems for the Eagles.

    The Eagles outlasted the Cowboys in their first meeting of this year (a 26-17 victory), but the Cowboys didn't have starting quarterback Dak Prescott in that game. Prescott will be in the lineup for next week's rematch, so selling out to stop the run might not be an option for the Eagles.

    While the Eagles only need one more win to lock up a first-round playoff bye, they won't have any meaningless games. Philadelphia must spend the final three weeks looking for ways to tighten up their run defense.