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Why we believe the Bears will take down the Eagles in the 2019 NFL playoffs

The defending Super Bowl champs excel as underdogs, but they face a tough test against the Bears’ fearsome defense.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are back in the postseason as the six seed, facing off against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. It’s the Bears’ first playoff appearance in eight years.

A lot has changed since the Bears and the Eagles last played each other in Week 12 of the 2017 season — a 31-3 blowout victory for the Eagles. Nick Foles will be playing quarterback instead of Carson Wentz, Matt Nagy has replaced John Fox as the head coach of the Bears, and the Bears have arguably the best defense in the league.

Don’t expect the Eagles to blow out the Bears this time.

The Bears and the Eagles have some familiarity with each other

The Eagles and the Bears are both on a tear right now. The Eagles have won five of their last six, while the Bears have won nine of their last 10 games. Brett Favre — a formal rival of the Bears and a former teammate of Eagles coach Doug Pederson — thinks the Eagles are the hottest team entering the postseason.

Despite some new faces since the two teams last time met over a year ago, they are a little familiar with each other.

Both of these teams played the Bucs, Giants, Vikings, and the Rams this year. The Bears destroyed the Bucs behind six passing touchdowns from Mitchell Trubisky, went 2-0 against the Vikings, lost in overtime to the Giants on the road, and beat the Rams at home. The Eagles lost to the Vikings and Bucs, but beat the Giants twice and the Rams on the road.

What are the defining aspects of these teams?

The Bears traded for Khalil Mack at the beginning of the season, and he’s looked like he was the missing piece, taking a strong defense and putting them in the ferocious category. The Eagles have been banged up for most of the season, but even when Carson Wentz went down with a back injury in mid-December, they were able to go 3-0 with Nick Foles back in the lineup.

  • Alshon Jeffery has become more relevant to the Eagles’ offense since Foles returned. Jeffery has averaged 100.3 receiving yards per game with Foles as the quarterback, but just 54.2 receiving yards per game with Wentz.
  • The Bears lead the league in opposing Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A) which weighs touchdowns and interceptions while factoring sack yards. The Bears are giving up 4.1 ANY/A — the Bills are second in the league with 4.9 ANY/A.
  • Chicago’s defense is forcing turnovers at a rate higher than anyone in the league: 19.5 percent of opponents’ drives ended in turnovers.
  • The Bears and Eagles will have a matchup between two of the premier trench players in the league. Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack will be taking on Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson. Mack finished his first season in Chicago with 12.5 sacks in 14 games.
  • Chicago’s offense is still a little shaky. Chicago ranks 21st in yards per play, 19th in percentage of drives ending with a score, 23rd in drives ending with a turnover, and 20th in offensive DVOA.
  • Philadelphia’s defense isn’t as dominant as it was a year ago, but it’s still a capable unit. The Eagles are 15th in pass defense DVOA and ninth in run defense DVOA.
  • In his last three games, Foles’ adjusted yards per attempt mark of 8.4. That would rank ninth behind Deshaun Watson if it counted for the entire season.

So what’s gonna happen on Sunday?

Bears fans have been pretty confident in their team this season. Eagles fans have been all over the place, which makes sense considering their season has been a rollercoaster. The FanPulse data shows that people are pretty confident in the Bears taking this one home.

Still, the Bears offense will have to produce on their own, which is something that they’ve struggled doing from game to game. If Foles can get off a few big plays against the Bears, this could be a wild one.

That said, it’s hard to trust the Eagles too much after their up-and-down season.

Score prediction: Bears 23, Eagles 16