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.
- Matt Nagy was the offensive quality control coach when Nick Foles was a rookie with the Eagles. They reunited a few years later when Nagy was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs and Foles was the backup to Alex Smith. Foles started one game with the Chiefs, a 19-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Nagy even lent Foles his car for a summer.
- Alshon Jeffery played five seasons in Chicago before signing with the Eagles before the 2017 season. Jeffery has the third-most receiving yards in Bears history.
- Trey Burton plays tight end for the Bears now, but he was on the Eagles’ Super Bowl winning team last season. He threw the ball to Nick Foles on the “Philly Special.”
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.
Score prediction: Bears 23, Eagles 16