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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