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.

Quite a Christmas present coming for Jordan Hicks

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Quite a Christmas present coming for Jordan Hicks

It won't be a surprise, but Jordan Hicks is going to get a pretty great Christmas present this year. 

He won't find it under his tree either. 

Hicks, who has been recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and surgery, will hit another big milestone in his recovery on Dec. 25. That's the day the walking boot comes off of his right foot. 

"Real good present, right?" Hicks said. 

Hicks, 25, tore his right Achilles on the second play from scrimmage against Washington on Oct. 23. Having already torn his left Achilles in college, Hicks knew immediately that his season was over and a long recovery was ahead of him. 

But Hicks has no doubt he'll return to being the same player he was before. He thinks he'll be even better. 

"Oh there's no question about that," Hicks said on Friday, speaking to a group of reporters in the Eagles' locker room for the first time since the injury. "There's no question about that. I'll be fine. I did my left Achilles in college and came back better. I know more, the advancements are better. There's no doubt in my mind I'll be a better player when I come back."

Hicks said the normal recovery time from an Achilles rupture is six to nine months. The six-month mark will be April. He expects to be back for training camp and be completely ready for next season. 

Before suffering this Achilles tear, Hicks had been dealing with an ankle injury on his left leg. Hicks, who has been labeled as an injury-prone player since college, was very proud of playing all 16 games in 2016. So when that ankle injury popped up earlier this season, he tried to play through it. That ankle injury led to a calf injury in his right leg and then the Achilles popped. Hicks thinks overcompensating for the initial injury led to a more serious one. 

"I think a couple weeks could have helped me, but it's always easy to look back," Hicks said. "Hindsight is 20/20. I wouldn't change anything just because it's my personality. It's who I am. All I want to do is be there for my teammates. Every time I step out there, the biggest goal for me is to have my teammates know that I'm their leader and I can be accountable. For me to sit here and say I shouldn't have been out there those weeks, it's hard for me to say that because all I want to do is be out there."

Hicks lasted just a couple plays in that Washington game before his Achilles popped, which put him right back on that road to recovery. And initially, it wasn't easy. Jason Peters joined him in the locker room a quarter later with his own season-ending injury and tried to raise his spirits, but that didn't change the fact that Hicks' season was over.

And for the second time in his three-year career, he knew he would end the season on injured reserve. 

"The grief set in," he said. "For the first week or so, it was tough, but man, there's no time for that. There's no time to sit here and sulk. There's no time to think about what could have been. ... All I'm focusing on is making sure I'm better and ready next year for my guys. That's all it is. For me, it's about accountability."

While Hicks made a rare appearance in the Eagles' locker room during media time on Friday, he's been around the building plenty. He and the Eagles' other injured players have remained involved despite their injuries. In fact, every week, Hicks studies opponent film to see how they handle blitzes. And every Friday, he gets in front of the defense to present it. 

After the injury, Jim Schwartz came to him and asked him to do this. 

"It's easy to isolate yourself in situations like this," Hicks said. "For him to come up to me and ask me to do that was big. I try to keep guys' spirits up and share my perspective." 

For the last month and a half, Hicks has been around the team but has been forced to watch games on TV, which he said is really tough. He hopes that's about to end. He'll be in North Jersey this weekend for the Giants game and hopes he'll be back on the sideline. 

"It's tough," Hicks said. "It's never easy to go through something like this. It tests your patience, this tests your character. You learn a lot through these times because it is so difficult. You have to really grind through some hard times. Put your head down and I think your character is really shown through this."

Nick Foles may not have full protection vs. Giants


Nick Foles may not have full protection vs. Giants

The Eagles will have a new quarterback this weekend, but they might not be able to protect him as well as they hope. 

Starting left guard Stefen Wisniewski will officially be listed as questionable for Sunday's game because of an ankle injury. 

Wiz had to leave the Rams game in the first half and did not return. He missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday. 

"We'll see where he's at today," head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday. 

After Wisniewski came out of the Rams game, he was replaced by Chance Warmack, who was then replaced by Isaac Seumalo. 

It sounds like Warmack will have the first chance to play this weekend if Wisniewski can't go. 

"We've worked Chance at that position this week," Pederson said. "Isaac has obviously gotten some reps really at all the positions but that would be the most logical."

Seumalo actually began the season as the team's starting left guard after he won the position in the offseason. From there, Warmack got the first crack at replacing him when he was benched, but Warmack couldn't keep the job, eventually giving way to a rotation before Wisniewski simply took over. The line has been much better since Wiz took over the starting job in Week 3. 

Alshon Jeffery and Steven Means, who both missed Thursday's practice with illnesses, will be back on the practice field on Friday. Both should be fine for this weekend's game. 

The Eagles will practice outside in 28-degree weather on Friday as they prepare for Sunday's outdoor game at MetLife Stadium. 

No word on the condition of the recycling can Jason Kelce kicked inside the bubble after getting cleated on Thursday. At least the outdoor practice will give it another day of rest.