5 matchups to watch as Eagles host Bears in NFL Week 9

5 matchups to watch as Eagles host Bears in NFL Week 9

The Eagles (4-4) will host the Bears (3-4) in a rematch of last year’s NFC Wild Card game. 

You’ll remember the Eagles won that game 16-15 as Cody Parkey’s last-second field goal was tipped by Treyvon Hester before hitting the left upright and the crossbar, a play now known as the “Double-Doink.” 

Here are five matchups to watch this Sunday: 

Andre Dillard vs. Khalil Mack 

Jason Peters (knee) won’t be ready for this game, so Dillard, the rookie first-round pick, will make his third straight start. It hasn’t all been perfect for Dillard in the last few weeks, but he’s played fairly well and wasn’t very noticeable in Buffalo (that’s a good sign). 

But this week, Dillard will have his toughest test yet. In recent matchups against Mack, Lane Johnson has handled the All-Pro well, but Mack doesn’t just rush from one side and the Bears will likely want a matchup against a rookie. In seven games, Mack has 5 1/2 sacks and is about as big a game-wrecker as there is in the NFL. Even Carson Wentz admitted he has to be aware of where Mack is at all times. 

Allen Robinson vs. Eagles corners 

There wasn’t much offense in that playoff game last year, but Robinson still managed to have a monster performance. He had 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. That was the first 10-catch, 140-yard playoff game ever against the Eagles, although Michael Thomas did it again the next week. 

But the Eagles will have a much different set of cornerbacks facing Robinson this time. Last year, the Eagles’ cornerbacks for that wild card game were Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox outside and Cre’Von LeBlanc at the nickel. By that point last season, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby were both long gone thanks to injuries. Both Mills and Darby are expected to start again on Sunday. Maddox should return as the nickel. 

It’s not like the Bears have a high-flying offense, but Robinson accounts for much of what they do have. In fact, he accounts for 41.3 percent of their air yards, which ranks fourth in the NFL among pass-catchers. 

David Montgomery vs. Eagles tacklers 

A round after the Eagles took Miles Sanders, the Bears took David Montgomery out of Iowa State. Through seven games, Montgomery leads the Bears with 366 yards on 98 carries (3.7), which isn’t great. The Eagles, statistically speaking, have a top-10 rushing defense and have historically been really good at stopping the run under Jim Schwartz. Stopping the run against the Bears is even more important because it forces the game into the hands of Mitchell Trubisky, who has struggled. The Eagles want to take away the run every week, but in a game where they’ll face an inferior quarterback, it’s even more important. 

The Eagles have to make sure they tackle well on Sunday. Even though Montgomery ranks tied for 42nd out of 44 qualified running backs in yards after contact per attempt (1.3), he has broken 11 tackles. That’s the same number of broken tackles as Christian McCaffrey and Le’Veon Bell. The Eagles struggled at times to tackle last week and they need to be better on Sunday. 

Cody Whitehair vs. Fletcher Cox 

Cox is coming off his most dominant performance of the season against Buffalo and has been heating up in the last few games. The Bears’ interior offensive line isn’t great; heck, their whole line isn’t great. So Cox needs to have another dominating performance. Same goes for Brandon Graham, who will have favorable matchups inside and out. 

The Eagles’ pass rush has been much better recently. We already talked about their plan to stop the run. If that happens and they get pressure on Trubisky, the defense could control this game. And since the Eagles will have to face a tough Bears defense, this could be a low-scoring contest. 

Carson Wentz vs. Opportunistic defense 

After half of the season, Wentz is on pace for 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions, with would be a really good ratio. In fact, an Eagles QB has had 28-plus touchdowns and eight or fewer interceptions just twice in franchise history — Wentz in 2017 and Donovan McNabb in 2004. 

Wentz has been very efficient and hasn’t been overly aggressive. In fact, his aggressiveness percentage (passing attempts into tight coverage) is at 14.4 percent. That ranks him 26th in the NFL. 

The Bears’ defense is still stout, but they haven’t been getting as many turnovers. They have 11 through seven games (six fumble recoveries and five INTs), but they have the ability to get many more. Last year, they led the NFL with 36 takeaways and with 27 interceptions. Wentz has to be careful in this game. 

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One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

It’s “easier than ever” to attend the Super Bowl, according to a Stub Hub press release.

It may also be easier than ever to go into debt doing it.

StubHub this week announced a program that allows fans to finance ticket purchases — including Super Bowl tickets — and pay for them over a period of 3, 6 or 12 months.

All at the bargain-basement price of up to 30 percent interest.

Stub Hub, in conjunction with financial firm Affirm, introduced a program this week that allows consumers to use Stub Hub to purchase tickets and during the check-out process elect to finance the purchase through Affirm. 

Although ticket buyers can use Affirm for most Stub Hub purchase, the company is rolling out this program as a way to encourage fans who can’t afford Super Bowl tickets to buy them at potentially exorbitant interest rates.

According to financial web site The Balance, the average credit card interest rate as of December was 21.26 percent.

“Just in time for the Super Bowl, consumers can purchase event tickets now and pay over time,” reads a joint press release from Affirm and Stub Hub. 

The StubHub-Affirm joint press release makes it sound like paying 30 percent interest is a financially sound idea: “With U.S. credit card debt at an all-time high and many consumers looking to kick off the new year with better financial habits, they’re demanding more transparent financial products that align with their interests.”

According to a CBS News story that examined the Stub Hub program, two lower-level end-zone tickets selling on Stub Hub for $15,760 on a 12-month, 30-percent loan would cost the buyer an additional $2,676 in interest.

The story also said that unlike credit cards, there’s no financial benefit for consumers to pay this sort of loan off early. 

Ted Rossman of creditcards.com appeared on CBS MoneyWatch and warned consumers against using this sort of financial plan to pay for tickets makes no financial sense.

"It is a huge risk to make any type of discretionary purchase with something that carries a rate of 10 percent to 30 percent,” Rossman said on the show, according to the CBS News story. "It's risky to buy it now and think you are going to pay it later."

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After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

Earlier this month, Jason Kelce called Brandon Brooks “the best offensive lineman in the NFL.” 

Turns out, ProFootballFocus agrees.

On Thursday, PFF named Brooks the winner of its annual Bruce Matthews Award, given to the best offensive lineman in the NFL. The Eagles were also named the best overall offensive line in the league. 

It’s an honor Brooks deserves after he was egregiously snubbed by voters for the Associated Press All-Pro team earlier this month. It was an absolute joke that Brooks wasn’t even named to the second team. No disrespect to Zack Martin or Marshal Yanda but Brooks was better than both of them this year. 

There’s no doubt that Brooks is the best right guard in the NFL. PFF thinks he’s the best overall OL in the league too. 

Here’s what they said about him:

“Brooks has been a perennially underrated player throughout his NFL career, whether it was playing in Houston or Philadelphia. Aside from a rookie season in which he played just 173 snaps, he has earned overall PFF grades of at least 74.0 every season since. Four of those six seasons before this one saw him top 80.0 overall, but this year he took his game to another level, earning an overall grade of 92.9. For years we have been making the case that he deserves Pro Bowl, and then All-Pro, recognition, and now he deserves to be acknowledged as the best offensive linemen in the game.”

While opinions are split on ProFootballFocus, their evaluations for offensive linemen are incredibly valuable. PFF has been able to give stats to a position that was previously stat-less. No, they don’t necessarily know assignments or the exact designs of plays, but they grade each and every play and that detailed analysis can take some of the human element out of giving these awards. 

When the All-Pro voters made their selections, they picked two guys at right guard in Martin and Yanda who have a longer history of playing at an elite level. PFF doesn’t care about that. They did their game-by-game, play-by-play evaluations and came to the conclusion that no other offensive lineman was better than Brooks this season. 

According to PFF, Brooks gave up just one sack and and 19 pressures on 647 pass snaps. That’s pretty impressive. But it’s even more impressive that Brooks was that dominant eight months after suffering a torn Achilles. 

For the start of next season, Brooks will be coming off a shoulder surgery, but there’s no doubt he should be able to return to his dominant form in 2020. 

The Eagles know what they have in Brooks. They signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a four-year extension during the season that made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL and will keep him in Philadelphia through 2024.

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