Eagles-Bears predictions

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Eagles-Bears predictions

Last Sunday night proved easier than expected.

Fresh off a 37-9 whooping of the Cowboys in Dallas, the Eagles return home to kick off against the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field (1 p.m./FOX).

Here are our expert predictions for the Week 12 matchup:

Reuben Frank (10-0)
This one could get ugly fast. Heck, lately, they’ve all been ugly. The Eagles have won three straight games by 23 or more points, and I fully expect that streak to increase to four Sunday. There have been only 12 instances in NFL history where a team has won four straight games by 23 or more points, most recently the 2004 Colts. Before that the 1961 Packers did it and so did the 1993 49ers. So if the Eagles do indeed blow out the Bears, they’ll be only the fourth team in the last 64 years to win four straight games by 23 or more points. The Eagles are just demolishing people right now, winning these last three by a combined 79 points. The Bears, meanwhile, come into Philly having lost three straight games and averaging just 15.3 points on offense this year, just 13.3 on the road. They’ve scored just six offensive touchdowns on the road all year. The Eagles have scored 21 offensive TDs at home. Blowout City.

Eagles 49, Bears 12

Dave Zangaro (8-2)
There's no such thing as a "trap game" for this Eagles team. 

So feel free to spend your day worrying about their focus against an inferior Bears team, but don't feel the need to. The Eagles aren't looking past the Bears, which means they're going to crush them. 

The Eagles had a bad half against the Cowboys and were still able to smoke them last week. If they come out just a little bit hotter Sunday afternoon, they'll put the Bears away early and keep the gas pedal to the floor. This Eagles team can taste blood in the water and there's a good chance they'll get the Bears bleeding early. 

Sure, Chicago's defense is OK and they can run the football. But the Eagles have scored 30-plus points in the last four games and the Bears haven't scored more than 27 all season. They're not going to be able to keep up. 

The Eagles win this one easy. 

Eagles 34, Bears 6

Derrick Gunn (9-1)
Their record says the Bears are a 3-7 team, but their play on the field shows they can be competitive. The Bears have lost their last three games by eight, seven and three points. Their three wins this season have been against Pittsburgh (in overtime), Baltimore and Carolina. They have an impressive run game that averages 131.8 yards, which is fifth-best in the league, featuring second-year back Jordan Howard, who is third in the league in rushing with 84.1 yards per game, and rookie Tarik Cohen. Both average over four yards per carry. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has shown promise, but he's still a rookie and prone to make mistakes. Chicago's offense averages just 17.4 points. Their defense is ranked 11th and can get after the quarterback with 29 sacks, tied for fourth-best in the league.

Unfortunately for the Bears, they are running into a red-hot Eagles squad that is firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. Carson Wentz and his crew are shredding defenses and the Birds’ defense is making Sundays miserable for opposing offenses. 

I look for this to be an entertaining game for maybe the first 30 minutes, then I expect the Birds to send the Bears into hibernation. 

Eagles 30, Bears 14 

Ray Didinger (9-1)
Last Sunday, the Eagles' offense went three-and-out on five straight possessions, looked totally out of sync for a half and they still beat the Dallas Cowboys by four touchdowns. That's pretty scary. They are averaging 32 points, most in the league, and they are allowing just 18.8 points a game. Crunch the numbers however you like, the bottom line is the same. The Eagles are the best team in football.

The Chicago Bears limp into town this week with a rookie quarterback (Mitchell Trubisky) and a 3-7 record. The Bears' coaches have done all they can to help Trubisky, calling lots of running plays with Jordan Howard (841 yards, third in the league) but no one has success running against the Eagles so this looks like a long day for the Bears. Their defense keeps them in most games, but they just don't have enough weapons on offense. It will be the same story this week. 

Eagles 28, Bears 12

Andrew Kulp (9-1)
In order to believe this might be a trap game, you would first have to believe one of two things. Either the Eagles are not as good as their record indicates, and a vastly inferior opponent such as the Bears can actually pose a threat. Or the Eagles, as a team, don't possess the correct mindset to focus on the task ahead and are susceptible to going on autopilot for a week.

I'm 100 percent confident the latter isn't true. The immense leadership in the locker room and overwhelming quantity of self-motivated players makes it hard to believe this team would take anybody lightly. That means an upset would require the Bears to have the talent to take advantage of some weakness on the Eagles. I have a hard time seeing that.

Yes, the Bears are better than their 3-7 record would suggest, but unless they can limit the Eagles' offense to fewer than 20 points, I don't see how they score enough points to win. And considering the Bears have only held two opponents under 20 all season, and the Eagles have yet to post fewer than 20, the prospect seems highly unlikely. Trap game, schmap game.

Eagles 30, Bears 10

Corey Seidman (7-3)
The Bears play sneaky good defense but have little else. They barely throw downfield and have zero weapons on the outside. 

This is probably the Eagles’ easiest game left. 

Eagles 35, Bears 6

Eagles Stay or Go — Young CBs and a new return man?

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Eagles Stay or Go — Young CBs and a new return man?

As we continue our offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018. 

We go alphabetically — Part 1 was Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett, Part 2 was De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks, Part 3 was Billy Brown to Vinny Curry. Today is Darby to Ertz. 

Ronald Darby
Roob: I’m still not completely sold on Darby. He made some big plays but also needs to be more consistent. That’s probably true of every young cornerback, and Darby certainly has all the tools to be a very good corner in the NFL. He just turned 24, he’s got world-class speed and when he gets his hands on the ball he’s always a threat to go the distance. The Eagles have a whole stable of young corners, and he’s in a similar position to Jay Ajayi in that he has one year left on his rookie four-year deal with another team, an AFC East team — in this case the Bills — and 2018 will give the Eagles a long look at him with a full training camp and season in an Eagles uniform. Darby will definitely be here in 2018. Beyond that, we’ll see.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: When you think about Darby's road to becoming a Super Bowl champion last season, it's pretty crazy. He gets traded to the Eagles during training camp, has to catch up and learn the defense and then dislocates his ankle in Week 1. He eventually came back as the Eagles' starter and never looked back. He's still just 24 and is really talented. Darby is about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, so the Eagles are going to have a decision to make about him soon enough. But for now, this is a no-brainer. 

Verdict: STAYS

Rashard Davis
Roob: Davis came and went on the practice squad throughout the year, but he was along for the Super Bowl ride in Minneapolis as a practice squad receiver, so the Eagles must like him. Davis had a decorated career at James Madison, where he was a record-setting punt returner, and that’s something the Eagles could be looking for depending what happens with Darren Sproles. Davis remains a long-shot, but he is an interesting guy. Stranger things have happened. Especially around here lately. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Davis didn't even spend all year on the Eagles' practice squad in 2017, but the team did bring him back and he'll be with them this spring. An undrafted receiver out of James Madison University, there's not a ton of people who even know about him. His best chance to make the Eagles' roster is as a returner, especially if Kenjon Barner isn't back. Not completely out of the question, but he has a steep uphill climb. 

Verdict: GOES

Rasul Douglas
Roob: I really like Douglas. What he lacks in pure speed he makes up for with intelligence and preparation. He’s a physical corner, likes to support the run, a sure tackler. He started five games while Ronald Darby was out and played surprisingly well for a rookie third-round pick, even picking up two interceptions in the first month of his pro career, both in key situations in close games. Whether or not he eventually moves into the slot or even safety remains to be seen, but I expect Douglas to be around here for quite a while. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Douglas had a pretty weird year. He was a third-round pick and would have had the opportunity to win a starting job but struggled some early during training camp. If he didn't, the team might not have made the move to trade for Darby. But when Darby went down, Douglas became a starter and played really well, finishing with two interceptions. He's not the fastest guy, but his length and ballhawk skills make up for it. With Darby and Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones all in the mix, how does Douglas fit in? That's not clear yet, but he'll be back for his second year. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dannell Ellerbe
Roob: Ellerbe gave the Eagles functional linebacker play after joining the Eagles late in the season to provide defensive depth in place of Jordan Hicks. He was solid against the run and provided veteran leadership during the postseason run. He essentially did exactly what the Eagles brought him in to do. But Ellerbe is 32 and has nine years under his belt, and the Eagles will no doubt go younger at linebacker moving forward. Whatever happens, Ellerbe now has two Super Bowl rings — one with the Ravens and one with the Eagles. Not a bad career!

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles were looking for a veteran to play on base downs, so they went out and got Ellerbe from the street in November. The 32-year-old eventually became a starter, but never played much. He then missed the NFC Championship Game with an injury and played just a few snaps in the Super Bowl. The Eagles need to upgrade and get younger at linebacker. Ellerbe shouldn't be back. 

Verdict: GOES

Jake Elliott
Roob: Yeah, he missed too many PATs, but the positives sure outweigh the negatives with Elliott. If Elliott didn’t prove his worth with the 61-yard game-winner against the Giants, he sure did with fourth-quarter field goals of 42 and 46 yards in the Super Bowl. Those are incredibly tough pressure kicks with the whole world watching, and Elliott crushed them. Caleb Sturgis is a very good kicker. Elliott is a potentially great one.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: This time last year, Elliott was still at Memphis getting ready for the draft. A lot has happened since then. He went in the fifth round to the Bengals, but he lost the competition in Cincinnati, was placed on their practice squad, and stayed there until Sturgis got hurt in the first week of the season. Elliott came to the Eagles and in his second game, he became a hero when he made a 61-yard, game-winner against the Giants. The crazy thing about it is, if Elliott missed the 46-yarder just before the game-winner, he would have been 2-for-5 and in jeopardy of getting cut. But that didn't happen and now it's his job for good. 

Verdict: STAYS

Zach Ertz
Roob: Ertz has established himself as a top-three tight end in this league, behind Gronk and probably a little behind Travis Kelce, although it’s close. As good as Ertz was during the regular season, earning his first Pro Bowl honor, he was massive in the postseason, with 8-for-93 against the Vikings and 7-for-67 with two huge catches in the Super Bowl — the two-yard gain on a fourth-quarter 4th-and-1 with the Eagles trailing by one at their own 45 and his go-ahead touchdown a few moments later. Ertz has the sixth-most catches by any tight end in NFL history after five seasons and the 10th-most yards. He’s already the greatest tight end in Eagles history, and he just turned 27. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: There's no question about it. Ertz has grown into one of the best and most complete tight ends in the NFL. He's one of the best weapons on the team and he's going to have a chance to continue to grow his already-impressive chemistry with Carson Wentz. 

Verdict: STAYS

Turns out, Alshon Jeffery was injured all season

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Turns out, Alshon Jeffery was injured all season

We all know about the myriad injuries the Eagles suffered on their way to the Super Bowl.

Nobody knew about this one.

Alshon Jeffery had surgery Wednesday morning to repair a torn rotator cuff that he played through all season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Per Rapoport, Jeffery suffered the injury in training camp this past summer. We did know Jeffery suffered some sort of shoulder injury during the summer. Even after he returned, Doug Pederson remained very cautious with Jeffery. At the time, that seemed strange. Pederson just kept saying he held him out at his own discretion, even though it seemed like Jeffery and Carson Wentz needed time to build chemistry. All that seems to make more sense now.

Rotator cuff injuries can be especially difficult for wide receivers (over-the-head catches) and any skill player who gets tackled to the ground. In recent years, rotator cuff tears have either ended the season or caused multiweek absences for Eric Decker, Martellus Bennett and Plaxico Burress, among others. 

Jeffery's ability to play the whole season with a shoulder injury makes what he was able to do all the more impressive. He made a quick impact, catching two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in Weeks 1-4, then scored seven TDs from Weeks 8-14 before turning in a strong postseason.

Along the way, Jeffery earned a new contract that pays him $26.75 million guaranteed with a full value of $52 million. 

Safe to say that playing through pain worked out. How crazy is it to consider now that on Wentz's crucial Week 14 touchdown pass to Jeffery in L.A., the QB had a torn ACL and the receiver had a torn rotator cuff.

Jeffery confirmed the surgery via Instagram story on Wednesday afternoon.