Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 TV: NBC 8:30 EDT
This Sunday Night game has some exciting playoff implications, a picture that will be clearer come Sunday evening after the NFL’s afternoon slate is finished.
At 8-6, the Eagles can claim the NFC East title by beating Chicago if the Cowboys lose to the Washington Redskins. If that does not happen, this game loses meaning and will set up an “all-or-nothing” showdown next week when Philadelphia heads to Dallas for the regular season finale.
The Bears have an identical record and are muddled in a similar situation in the NFC North. They can win the division crown if Green Bay loses at Pittsburgh and if Detroit loses to the New York Giants. If Detroit should only lose, the game will not have much meaning because they, like the Eagles will face a divisional foe in Green Bay for the NFC North crown next Sunday.
However, it appears that both of these coaches will play their starters after Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he would not be resting players regardless of the outcome of other games. Trestman has not said as much, but the Bears will have almost certainly have something to play for in Sunday Night’s contest.
Chicago welcomed back quarterback Jay Cutler from injury last week and managed to pull off a thrilling 38-31 victory at Cleveland. He started off slow and turned the ball over, but found his bearings late and finished with a solid day, throwing three touchdowns and for 265 yards. As far as skill positions go, the Bears have some of the best in the league. Wide outs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have been one of the best receiver tandems in the league and should find plenty of holes Sunday against the Eagles’ terrible defensive secondary.
Defensively, the Bears issues have been well documented. Dealing with a number of injuries to their defensive line and linebackers, Chicago is dead last in stopping the run over the past six weeks and has not been much better against the pass.
Philadelphia had their five-game win streak snapped last week at Minnesota, losing 48-30 in a shootout with the Matt Cassel lead-Vikings. The game was more an indictment on their defense, rather than their offensive prowess as Nick Foles threw for nearly 400 yards and hooked with DeSean Jackson for 194 yards and a score in the contest.
This game has not seen much movement and action has been split between the two sides. The line opened at Philly -3, and that is the number that is currently available at most sportsbooks. The total opened at 55.5 and has taken plenty of action on the over. It is at 56.5 at many books currently and should rise even more closer to game time.
As bad as the Bears defense has been this year, the Eagles has debatably been worse over the past few weeks. Letting Matt Cassel throw for almost 400 yards is unbelievable, and the Vikings’ passing attack has been inept all-season long, as well. Minnesota easily scored their highest number of points last week against Philly, and that is not a strong omen against a Chicago team that has a much more potent offensive arsenal.
Cutler did look shaky in his return last week, but he should have plenty of time to throw in this one if last week was any indication. Marshall and Jeffery are matchup nightmares for the defense, and the Eagles pass rush against Minnesota was basically non-existent. If given time to throw, Cutler is much more accurate.
Of course, the Bears’ defense is terrible, especially their rush defense, but it is worth nothing they have not allowed a 300-yard passer since Week 3 and have quietly gotten better through the air. If they can contain LeSean McCoy somewhat, they should put themselves in a good position to when this game. They look to be getting linebacker Lance Briggs back, so their run defense should be shored up a bit.
Pick: Bears +3 with Bovada.lv