Eagles 31, Bears 3: Studs, duds, turning point and more

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Eagles 31, Bears 3: Studs, duds, turning point and more


The Eagles are a machine. 

On Sunday, they were a steamroller. 

The Bears had absolutely no chance against them Sunday at the Linc. The Eagles bullied them on their way to a 31-3 win (see Roob's observations). This one was never close. 

With the win, the Eagles improved to 10-1 for just the fourth time in franchise history (2004, 1980, 1949). The Bears dropped to 3-8. 

The Eagles are just the 39th team in the Super Bowl era to win 10 of their first 11. The first 38 have all made the playoffs — 17 went to the Super Bowl and eight won it. 

The Eagles still have the best record in the entire league with five games left on their schedule. 

Carson Wentz had his fifth three-touchdown game of the season. He's just one away from tying Norm Snead's franchise record of six, set in 1967. 

The Eagles scored 30-plus points for the fifth straight game. It's the first time they've done that since 1953. 

But the real story of the game was the Eagles' defense. Jim Schwartz's unit was incredible against the lackluster Bears, who just couldn't get anything going. 

The Eagles crushed the Bears in the first half and went into the locker room with a 24-0 lead. That came after they shut out the Cowboys in the second half in Dallas. They had outscored their opponents, 54-0, in four quarters. 

Turning point
Once the Eagles scored first, this one was over. 

Key stats
The Eagles held the Bears to six rushing yards. That's the fewest rushing yards they've allowed in a game since 1946. 

The Eagles outgained the Bears 272-33 in the first half. They also had 16 first downs, while the Bears didn't have one. This was never a game. 

The Bears became the first team since the Chiefs in 2012 to fail to get a first down in the first half.

Offensive stud
Wentz continues to amaze. He was dazzling yet again Sunday (see report card). He finished his day completing 23 of 36 passes for 227 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 109.4. He came out with 9:38 left in the fourth for Nick Foles. 

Offensive dud
While LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement had nice days, Jay Ajayi didn't have much of an impact. He did have a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter but fumbled. Nelson Agholor was there to jump on it. 

Defensive stud
Brandon Graham picked up a sack and has a new career high with seven. He had a very good game again. 

Defensive dud
I dunno. 

Key plays 
• Corey Graham had a late interception to finish off the game. 

• Ajayi broke off a 30-yard run but fumbled near the goal line and the ball rolled into the end zone. Agholor was there to fall on it. The Eagles are even scoring on their fumbles. 

• The Bears broke up the shutout with a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter. They finally got a first down on the drive. 

• Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for an eight-yard touchdown pass to end the half with the Eagles up 24-0. Jeffery jumped a little early but it didn't matter. He came down with a touchdown and celebrated by fake bowling and knocking down his teammates. 

• Jake Elliott made a 45-yarder to put the Eagles up 17-0. It was his first field goal since coming back from a concussion last week. 

• Wentz made an incredible play, avoiding a rusher and scampering for 16 yards and a first down on a third-down attempt. It was an incredible play. 

• The Eagles made it 14-0 in the second quarter, when Agholor caught a pass, made a man miss and flipped into the end zone. 

• On their second drive of the game, Wentz hit Zach Ertz for a 17-yard touchdown to put them up 7-0 and start the demolition.

Beau Allen (knee) and Trey Burton (back) both missed the game after being listed as questionable. Joe Walker left early with a stinger; Najee Goode replaced him. 

Up next
The Eagles will play the Seahawks in Seattle before traveling south to spend the week in Southern California in advance of the Rams game. Two tough road games on tap. 

Colin Kaepernick? RG3? Again ... not happening, Pederson says

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Colin Kaepernick? RG3? Again ... not happening, Pederson says

If you're playing that whole Colin Kaepernick vs. RG3 game, don't bother.

The Eagles aren't bringing in a veteran quarterback.

Nick Foles is the starter. Nate Sudfeld is No. 2. And that's that.

Judging by Twitter and callers to sports talk radio, there are a ton of fans out there who believe the Eagles should sign a veteran off the street, like Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III or even Michael Vick, to back up Foles.

With Carson Wentz out for the year, Foles and Nate Sudfeld are the only quarterbacks on the Eagles' roster.

Kaepernick quarterbacked the 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2012 and very nearly to another one in 2013 and started 11 games for the 49ers last year (going 1-10). 

RG3 is only 27 and was the Browns' opening-day starter last year — against the Eagles.

Vick hasn't played since 2015 with the Steelers, but he always seemed kind of ageless, right?

What if Foles gets hurt? What if he gets hurt in the NFC Championship Game?

Sudfeld has never thrown a regular-season pass. He spent training camp with the Redskins and was on the Eagles' practice squad at the beginning of last month. 

Would the Eagles honestly rather go into the Super Bowl with Nate Sudfeld at quarterback than Colin Kaepernick?

It's a valid question, and on Monday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson answered it with a resounding yes.

"Probably the biggest reason is the time invested," he said. "If you bring in a guy off the street this late in the season, you're talking about spending time with that player trying to get him just caught up to speed on our offense. 

"We've already spent the time with a guy with Nate. We've developed him and worked with him. So that's probably the biggest reason right there."

Guys like Kaepernick, RG3 and many of the other veterans whose names have been bandied about not only haven't played this year, they also weren't in training camps and haven't participated in any sort of practice in a year.

The Eagles believe it would be impossible to bring in a quarterback now, get him into football shape after being out of the league all year, and teach him the offense in a matter of weeks.

Sudfeld has been with the Eagles since they signed him to the practice squad on Sept. 4, so that's three months of meetings, film study and practice in Pederson's offense alongside Foles and Wentz.

And for the Eagles, play recognition is much more important than name recognition.

To rest or not rest is Doug Pederson's question

To rest or not rest is Doug Pederson's question

It's a pretty good problem to have, but it's still a problem that needs sorting. 

By the time the Eagles play the Raiders on Christmas night next Monday, they might have already wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. 

Then what? 

Do they rest some starters? Do they play everyone and try to win? What's the plan for the next two weeks? 

"I've begun thinking (about it), but my focus is winning the game on Monday night," head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. "Because that, to me, is the most important thing. Once we get to next week, we'll figure out next week. But my mindset this week is all about the Oakland Raiders, Monday Night Football."

To put it in baseball terms, over the last two weeks of the season, the Eagles' magic number to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is one. So either a win from the Eagles or a loss from the Vikings would ensure that the Birds have the top spot. 

That means if the Vikings lose to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Saturday night, the Eagles will have clinched and will have a couple days to make a decision before playing on Monday. (Whether Rodgers faces Minnesota may depend on tonight's Falcons-Bucs game. If Atlanta wins, Green Bay is eliminated from the playoffs.)

Even if the Vikings win, the Eagles could beat the Raiders and still clinch the top spot this weekend, which would set up a situation where that last game of the season is meaningless. 

"You just make the best decisions for your football team," Pederson said. "If that means resting a guy, you rest a guy or two or three. But you also have to maintain the edge with these players, and you've got to maintain that confidence and that dominating swagger and you've got to keep that alive.

"You just can't go — it's not a preseason game, you know what I'm saying, where you can rest in Week 4 and rest all your guys. You can't do that because you're still limited to the roster limits on game day. Guys are still going to have to play, but at the same time, I'm going to be smart about the decisions we make moving forward and getting guys who need it rest, if possible."

While rest is obviously helpful at this time of year, the Eagles could be in a spot where they have three straight weeks — two nothing games and a bye — without a meaningful game. Good for rest, potentially bad for momentum heading into the postseason. 

The quarterback position, specifically, is a bit of a quandary. Had Carson Wentz not torn his ACL, it would be a fairly easy decision — rest him. But Nick Foles hasn't played a lot this year and could probably use the work, especially with his relatively unfamiliar receivers. The problem with that is, if he gets hurt, the team is down to Nate Sudfeld. Pederson also said that he'd ideally like to get Sudfeld some work. 

The Eagles haven't been in this position in quite some time. You'd have to go all the way back to the 2004 Super Bowl season to find a similar situation. Like what could happen with a Minnesota loss on Saturday, the 2004 Eagles had home-field clinched with two games to go. Donovan McNabb and the Eagles' starters played just one series in Week 16 and then most key players were rested in Week 17 before the bye in the wild-card round. 

Because of the rest, the Eagles lost their last two games heading into the playoffs, but it didn't matter. In the divisional round, they went up 14-0 early in the second quarter and took down the Vikings 27-14, their first step in the playoffs toward the Super Bowl. 

On Monday, Pederson didn't want to answer too many specific questions about hypothetical situations, but he and his coaches will probably have some sort of plan in place if the Vikings lose. That plan could either be to play like normal or begin the coasting process into the playoffs. 

"Like I've said pretty much these last few weeks, we control our destiny right now," Pederson said. "So that's the focus for me."