Eagles-Bears thoughts: Playoff implications for Chicago game

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Eagles-Bears thoughts: Playoff implications for Chicago game

1 p.m. on FOX
Eagles favored by 15

The Eagles will attempt to avoid walking into the dreaded trap game when they host the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.

It’s easy to imagine a team in the Eagles’ shoes looking past Chicago. The Bears enter Week 12 with a 3-7 record and a one-dimensional offense but playing competitive football. The Eagles have a two-game West-Coast swing up next against a pair of potential playoff opponents. We probably don’t need Admiral Ackbar to explain what such a scenario might mean.

Although, the Eagles didn’t get to 9-1 and amass an eight-game winning streak by laying down for inferior opponents. This squad has shown up every week, and until they show a tendency to do otherwise, the idea of a trap game seems like a foreign concept.

Expect the Eagles to be ready for a fight at kickoff. Expect the Bears’ best shot right back, too. Chicago has lost only two games by more than one possession in 2017.

Taking care of business
Yet another reason an upset would be difficult to imagine is the Eagles are on a roll. They’re not just racking up the wins. They’re demolishing teams in the process.

In their last three games vs. the 49ers, Broncos and Cowboys, the Eagles have defeated opponents by a combined score of 121-42, or an average score of 40-14. Go back six games, with victories over the Cardinals, Panthers and Redskins, and the Eagles have won by a total of 217-96 or 36-16 on average.

Of those teams, only the Panthers currently have a winning record. That’s also kind of the point. Of all the potential “traps” on the Eagles schedule thus far, none has come particularly close to pulling it off.

It would also take a mighty big reversal in trends for the Bears to pull off the shocker. Chicago has scored more than 24 points in a game just once this season, while the Eagles have scored fewer than 26 just once.

Falling apart
As if the task at hand wasn’t monumental enough for the Bears, they make the trip to the Linc without several key players.

Chicago lost arguably its best defensive player for the season in linebacker Leonard Floyd last week. Floyd joins the offense’s top three receivers on injured reserve — Zach Miller, Cameron Meredith and Kevin White — as well as veteran linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Willie Young.

And as if all that wasn't bad enough, the Bears’ injury report is loaded this week. Pro Bowl left guard Kyle Long and pass-rushers Akiem Hicks and Pernell McPhee are among the 14 names listed as either questionable, doubtful or out against the Eagles.

That’s practically every accomplished receiver on the roster, their best offensive lineman, and the team’s top-three leaders in sacks for the Bears, all missing this game or hobbled. The Eagles have had injuries of their own, and they certainly aren’t going to show any mercy. But by comparison, the Eagles look like a picture of health.

The trouble with Trubisky
Given what first-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has to work with on offense, you can’t entirely blame him because he’s not an instant star. After all, the Bears’ best remaining receivers are veteran slot receiver Kendall Wright and rookie running back Tarik Cohen.

Still, Trubisky is a limited passer at this stage of his career. The second-overall draft choice has made some strides the last two weeks, completing 60 percent of his attempts with zero interceptions in each, but the overall production is limited. Trubisky is averaging 164.7 passing yards and 6.8 per attempt with four touchdowns in six starts.

The Bears have a middle-of-the-road defense and a top-five ground attack, yet the offense remains one-dimensional and has trouble consistently putting points on the board. Chicago is tied for 27th in the NFL in scoring.

Trubisky is gaining valuable experience and may continue to progress. However, his development is clearly occurring at the expense of the Bears' ability to win football games.

Playoff picture
The Eagles may not be looking ahead, but that doesn't mean we can't. Every victory matters at this point as they try to keep pace for first place in the NFC.

The Vikings won on Thanksgiving, which means at best the Eagles can stay one game ahead of the competition for the first seed in the playoffs. The Saints will also be looking for their ninth win Sunday at the Rams.

The Eagles can come one step closer to clinching the NFC East this week as well. With the Cowboys losing on Thanksgiving, an Eagles win would put them in position to put away the division crown with another win over the Seahawks in Week 13.

So while the Bears may look like nothing more than a speed bump on the way to the postseason, this is absolutely an important game as it pertains to the Eagles' outlook moving forward.

Michael Bennett's strong message to NFC East QBs

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Michael Bennett's strong message to NFC East QBs

It wasn't quite a WWE throwdown message, but Michael Bennett definitely put NFC East quarterbacks on notice during his introductory press conference at the NovaCare Complex on Monday afternoon.

He's coming for them.

And so are the rest of his defensive line teammates.

"I know Eli Manning is probably watching this and thinking, like, yes I'm coming," said Bennett, whom the Eagles acquired in a trade with the Seahawks. "I know Dak (Prescott) is watching this like, 'Yeah, he's coming.' Yeah, I am.

"And Alex Smith, he knows he can't run from me. I told him at the Pro Bowl. So it's definitely going to be a great season and it's going to be fun to chase quarterbacks. I just know third down it's just going to be ... and second down and first down, it's just going to be fun."

When Bennett, 32, named all three of the starting quarterbacks from the NFC East, he was actually answering a question about comparing the defensive schemes from Seattle and Philadelphia. Bennett began by saying that he played with some great players in Seattle, before saying he doesn't think there's a tight end in the NFL that can block him.

From there, he started to name the QBs.

Manning in New York. Prescott in Dallas. And recently-acquired Smith in Washington. They'll all be seeing Bennett twice this season.

Bennett is basically replacing Vinny Curry on the Eagles' defensive line, and Haloti Ngata is basically replacing Beau Allen. While Curry and Allen are younger, many think Bennett and Ngata are improvements in the short-term, which means the strength of the Eagles' defense from 2017 is even stronger in 2018.

While Curry had just three sacks in 2017 and has gone over the four-sack mark just once in his six-year career, Bennett has had at least five sacks in all of those last six seasons. Bennett has 48 sacks since 2012 and has been a Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons.

While there was a report that surfaced saying Seattle was trying to part ways with socially active players, Bennett said he didn't give it much credence. His relationship with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll goes beyond football and he knows Seattle was just trying to unload him to get something back in return; it's part of the business.

It seems likely that in Philly, Bennett will get a chance to play both inside and outside. His versatility was used in a similar fashion in Seattle, but he also played a ton of snaps, which he won't have to do in the Eagles' rotation. It should keep him fresh.

And it will probably keep opposing quarterbacks up at night.

Eagles' season opener will be a juicy rematch

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Eagles' season opener will be a juicy rematch

These poor Minnesotans can't seem to get rid of Philly.

First, the Eagles spanked their Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, then the Eagles won a Super Bowl two weeks later in their stadium. And now the Vikings have to open up the 2018 NFL season back at the Linc.

The Eagles are going to host the Vikings on Thursday, Sept. 6 at Lincoln Financial Field to open the NFL calendar, according to Howard Eskin.

Of course, the last time the Vikings came to the Linc they scored the first touchdown of the game before the Eagles scored the next 38 points to crush the No. 2 seed in the NFC, 38-7.

After Kyle Rudolph caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum early in the first quarter, the Eagles' defense clamped down and the offense, led by Nick Foles, exploded. The biggest play of the game (one of the biggest of the season) was Patrick Robinson's 50-yard pick-6 later in the first quarter. The Eagles took a 24-7 lead into the locker room and halftime and much of the second half became a party on the sideline and in the stands, where a "Foles-Skol" chant broke out several times.

Of course, the Vikings are going to look different this time. Case Keenum has moved on to Denver, and the Vikings brought in Kirk Cousins from Washington. In his career against the Eagles, Cousins is 4-3 with a passer rating of 99.7.

The full NFL schedule probably won't be released until mid-April. We also know the Eagles will face the Jaguars in London on either Oct. 21 or 28.

Here are the teams the Eagles will face in 2018: