Eagles-Bears NFL playoffs wild-card round predictions

Eagles-Bears NFL playoffs wild-card round predictions

The Eagles needed the Bears’ help just to get into the playoffs and now, the two teams will square up in Soldier Field. 

The Bears are the three-seed, while the Eagles come in as the underdogs as the sixth-seed. 

To the predictions: 

Reuben Frank (9-7) 
This is going to be one of those low-scoring, close-to-the-vest defensive battles where possessions are at a premium and turnovers will be fatal. The matchup I keep coming back to is the Eagles’ defensive line, which played its best football of the year down the stretch, vs. a 24-year-old quarterback making his first career playoff start. The Bears’ offensive line is very good and generally keeps Mitch Tribusky clean, and that’s enabled him to be efficient enough to win games with an exceptional defense.

But I like the way the Eagles’ front is playing. Fletcher Cox has been an absolute beast. Michael Bennett looks 10 years younger. Brandon Graham is finally healthy. Chris Long knows when to turn it on. Even Haloti Ngata has been very good lately. And now, Tim Jernigan is back doing his thing. I just don’t see the Bears scoring a ton of points Sunday and I think the Eagles will score just enough to get out of Soldier Field with a win. See everybody back in New Orleans!

Eagles 17, Bears 13 

Dave Zangaro (7-9)
This is one of those rare games where it seems like both fan bases have confidence. And they both should. The Bears are a 12-4 team with a killer defense. The Eagles are just 9-7 but have been hot, playing their best football and the Super Bowl MVP seems to have the magic back. The six-point line tells me Vegas thinks the Bears are going to win by double-digits, but I don’t see it. I expect a really close game. 

To me, it all comes down to the Eagles’ offensive live vs. the very talented Bears’ defensive line. The two strengths of these respective teams battling it out in the trenches. Nick Foles has his magic back, but it’ll disappear really quickly if he spends Sunday afternoon on the seat of his pants. If he stays upright, I think the Eagles have a chance to sneak out of Chicago with a win. 

Eagles 24, Bears 21 

Derrick Gunn (9-7)
Just when we thought the defending Super Bowl champs were down and out, they get off the ropes and are still swinging. The Eagles feel all the pressure is on the Bears. They know what it takes to survive in the second season, while the Bears have to figure it out. The head coaches, Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy, are from the Andy Reid coaching tree. They are both risk-takers and creative play callers. 

The Bears’ defense is a monster and Khalil Mack is a nightmare. Lane Johnson did an outstanding job against J.J. Watt, and Ryan Kerrigan, but he will have to elevate his game against the Mack attack. The Eagles will try to establish their run game, but it won't be easy against a unit giving up just 80 yards per game on the ground. Foles will have to take care of the ball against these guys, who led the league in both takeaways (36) and interceptions (27). 

Considering the high volume of injuries, these Eagles are still a dangerous bunch. I don’t expect it to be a high-scoring affair. It could come down to the last play of the game, with Jake Elliott putting the winner through the uprights. 

Eagles 21, Bears 20

Ray Didinger (9-7)
The Eagles seem to thrive in the role of underdogs and, good news, they are the biggest underdog of wild-card weekend. The Bears are favored by a touchdown over the defending Super Bowl champs and it is easy to see why. They are hot, they are healthy and they are playing at home, where they have been very good this season.

The Bears’ defense is legit. It has allowed the fewest points (17.7 per game) and it also has produced a slew of points. That's because the Bears lead the league with 36 takeaways, so the defense is setting the offense up with great field position and easy scores. The Bears' offense ranks 21st in yards gained but it is ninth in points scored. That tells you the Bears aren't producing long drives but they are still putting points on the board, thanks to the defense.

That's the key for the Eagles. If they can avoid turnovers and make the Bears' offense work for its points, they can win the game. The Bears are a young team with a quarterback, Trubisky, making his first playoff start. The Eagles have the Super Bowl MVP and a big edge in experience, which could be the difference in what figures to be a tight, low-scoring game.

Eagles 20, Bears 17

Andrew Kulp (8-8) 
Here are some numbers that would seem to matter: the Bears’ defense hasn't surrendered more than 17 points in its last four games; has held seven of its last 10 opponents to 17 or fewer; surrendered 24 or more points in just four games all season; and allowed only one team, the Patriots, to score more than 22 at Soldier Field. Meanwhile, the Bears averaged 26.3 points per game themselves.

The moral of the story? The Eagles will need to score points to win, and it will not be easy to do. Now, they are averaging 27.0 over their last six contests, but the only good, healthy defense they faced was the Cowboys', which held the Eagles to 256 total yards of offense.

It's also true the Eagles are playing better in the three games since Dallas, but if you think Foles is going to hang franchise-record yardage on the Bears or complete 25 straight passes against this defense, you've got another thing coming. He won't get much help on the ground against the No. 1 unit against the run, either, which means Foles has to win this through the air against the most opportunistic D in the NFL.

The odds are not in the Eagles' favor here.

Bears 27, Eagles 17 

Corey Seidman (9-7)
I think the Eagles have this. The Bears’ offense waned in the regular season’s final weeks, and while any wide receiver corps is capable of beating the Eagles’ secondary in a given week, I don’t think Chicago’s offense will be able to keep up with the Eagles. That is, unless Nick Foles is sacked a bunch or commits a couple turnovers in Eagles territory.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised this line opened with the Bears favored by six points. The teams are closer than that, talent-wise.

Eagles 24, Bears 13

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The guys break down their 53-man roster projection.

Also, Dave's international vacation plan.

1:30 - How does Andy Weidl fill Joe Douglas' void?
5:30 - Jeff Lurie's vision.
13:00 - Eagles' stability as a franchise has been a separator.
19:30 - Impact of Joe Douglas taking the Jets job.
29:00 - 53-man roster projection.

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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

The franchise quarterback returns, while a Philadelphia legend departs. Will the Eagles be better or worse under center in 2019?

Key addition: Clayton Thorson (draft, fifth round) 
Key departure: Nick Foles (free agent, Jaguars)

Why they could be better: Carson Wentz is finally healthy

Wentz’s struggles in 2018 – as much as a 69.6 completion percentage, 7.7 yards per pass attempt and 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio can be described as struggling – were easy to see coming. He was a third-year quarterback only nine months removed from a torn ACL and spent the majority of the offseason rehabbing rather than working on his timing in the offense and building a rapport with receivers. No doubt he was putting unrealistic pressure on himself, too.

The injury is finally behind Wentz though, as is the broken back bone that shelved him in December. He’s entering his fourth season, so his comfort level in the offense should be nearing its peak, and he has all spring and summer to get on the same page with his numerous weapons. With his health and contract situations resolved, all Wentz needs to worry about now is playing football – which, as you might recall, he’s pretty good at.

Why they could be worse: Unproven backup

The Eagles really like Nate Sudfeld. They promoted him from the practice squad to the 53-man roster during the 2017 season to prevent another team from signing him. They let him serve as the backup quarterback in the Super Bowl. And they tendered him at a second-round level as a restricted free agent this offseason, effectively ensuring his return while paying him over $3 million.

This will be Sudfeld’s third year in the system, so he should know what he’s doing at least. Yet, the fact is he’s attempted just 25 passes in the NFL. There’s simply no telling how good he is. It’s nothing like bringing Nick Foles off the bench. He had won 24 games, threw 66 touchdown passes and went to a Pro Bowl before adding Super Bowl MVP to his resume. Sudfeld has talent and familiarity with the offense, plus a quality supporting cast. He probably wouldn’t be a disaster, but could he save the Eagles’ season if called upon? Impossible to say.

The X-factor: Can Wentz stay healthy for 16-plus games?

People are quick to throw around the injury prone label, often unfairly, but Wentz has been seriously hurt in each of his last four seasons going back to college. He broke a bone in his throwing wrist at North Dakota State, suffered a hairline rib fracture in preseason during his rookie year (though he played all 16 regular season games), then had the ACL and the back. Injury prone or not, that’s an alarming trend.

These are unrelated injuries, so it’s possible Wentz has been unlucky. It’s also very likely the Eagles’ fortunes this season are hinging on this hope. Wentz could help himself by getting rid of the ball quicker on occasion or giving up on a few more plays. Then again, he’s the quarterback. He’s going to get hit sometimes. All anybody can do is wait and see if he keeps getting up.

Are the Eagles’ quarterbacks better or worse?

The overall talent in the room undeniably dips with Foles’ departure. Yet, ideally, Wentz is the only signal caller taking meaningful snaps for the Eagles, and he should take another step forward in 2019 provided he can stay on the field. This is a matter of perspective, but to me, having an MVP-caliber quarterback at 100 percent is far more important than the guys sitting on the bench. 


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