The Eagles have dealt with injuries in 2017, and so far have survived them all unscathed. The Bears, on the other hand, have been absolutely ravaged by the injury bug, to the point they can only wonder if a few extra healthy bodies might’ve changed the outcome some weeks.
Chicago is sending a good team to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. The trouble is, most of the squad won’t be suiting up. The Bears ahave 12 players on injured reserve, and have another 14 players on the injury report for this game alone.
Sure, the Eagles lost a handful key players, most for the year. It hasn’t been a never-ending string like what the Bears are dealing with.
Naturally, the Eagles aren’t going to take pity on the Bears, who will show up and expect to be competitive. Whether they can hang around and make a game of it will be another story. This game could be interesting if Chicago had its roster intact, or even half of the guys that will be sidelined. The way the lineup is currently constructed, there doesn’t appear to be much that would point to an upset.
Mitchell Trubisky has been a much more efficient passer the last two games since the Bears’ bye, completing 60.0 percent of his pass attempts with zero interceptions in each. zstill, Trubisky is a far more limited passer right now than Carson Wentz was at this stage of his own rookie season last year. Trubisky is developing and has the potential to become a very good quarterback, but there’s no comparison at all today, with Wentz being a legitimate MVP candidate at this point.
Distinct advantage: Eagles
Were it not for the Eagles, the Bears might lay claim to the best stable of backs in the NFL. Jordan Howard is in the hunt for a rushing title with 841 yards after finishing second last season, and his three carries for 50-plus yards are currently tied for first, while Tarik Cohen leads the team with 33 catches. There aren’t many duos in the league who would get the nod over the trio of LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. Howard is possibly the best individual ball carrier of the bunch, yet the Eagles are deeper.
Slight advantage: Eagles
Wide receivers and tight ends
This is a trouble spot for the Bears. Chicago’s leading receiver by yards is Kendall Wright with 330. The Eagles have three players with at least 96 more yards through the air (Alshon Jeffery, 567; Zach Ertz, 536; and Nelson Agholor, 426). A pair of Bears is tied with two touchdown receptions – one of whom, Zach Miller, is out for the season – while the Eagles have five wideouts and tight ends with at least that many. This doesn’t merit much of a conversation.
Overwhelming advantage: Eagles
These are both outstanding units. The Eagles and Bears offenses rank second and fifth in the NFL, respectively, in rushing yards, and both groups are generally sound in pass protection. That being said, Chicago could be in for a long day if Kyle Long is hobbled or can’t go. The Pro Bowl left guard is questionable with an ankle injury, and the interior is already the weak link with second-year center Cody Whitehair vulnerable in protection. The Eagles are better, although by how much exactly depends on Long.
Defensive lines and linebackers
The Bears have three players with at least 4.0 sacks, and all three are questionable or out for Sunday's contest. Chicago's defense lost its biggest playmaker for the season in Leonard Floyd, while Akiem Hicks and Pernell McPhee are both in jeopardy of sitting with knee injuries. That’s almost half of the front seven, and depending on who can go, there may be too many bodies to replace. Meanwhile, the Eagles feature arguably the best D-line in football, while Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks have formed a solid duo at linebacker.
Cornerbacks and safeties
Now that the Eagles have Ronald Darby back at cornerback and picking up right where he left off, their secondary looks surprisingly stacked. The Bears have managed to cobble together a respectable group themselves, thanks in part to Kyle Fuller’s resurgence and the surprising play of young safeties Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson. However, Chicago’s 11th-ranked pass defense isn’t as stingy as the yardage totals would have you believe. Fuller can be picked on, while the DBs are 29th with four interceptions.
The kicking game has been so abysmal for the Bears that they were finally forced to make a change after 10 weeks, signing Cairo Santos formerly of the Chiefs. That should help in terms of converting a few more field goals. Then again, Chicago’s coverage units haven’t been getting the job done, either, allowing both a kick and a punt return for touchdowns this season. The Eagles have had no such problems, though Jake Elliott’s accuracy will be monitored closely coming off a concussion.
It’s amazing to think how far Doug Pederson has come as a coach in such a short amount of time. Still, how do you compare a relative newcomer to somebody like John Fox? Even if 2017 is destined to wind up his third straight losing season in Chicago, Fox has been to the playoffs seven times with a Super Bowl appearance. But looking at the overall staffs, Fox and Jim Schwartz might be a push running the respective defenses. The difference is you take Pederson over Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
Slight advantage: Eagles
As we’ve run into on several occasions this season, the Eagles look like the superior team across the board. In this case, injuries might be a factor, specifically in the trenches. The Bears are strong up front on both sides of the ball. It’s a question of who will be available and how many more losses can those units overcome? Factor in the obvious quarterback deficit at the moment, and it really doesn’t make for all that close a comparison – though perhaps it could’ve been.
Distinct advantage: Eagles