Last year, the Bears got off to a lukewarm start, and were 4-3 with a struggling offensive line. They then won five straight, including a 31-26 result against Philadelphia that ended up being the difference between playing the Seahawks at home in the semifinals, or having to host a wildcard round game.
But the game was in Chicago last year, and there was a fair amount of chatter about the field conditions before and after that game at Soldier Field. The Bears’ defense and the turf limited the Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy combo to less than 100 yards rushing, while the Bears limited Cutler’s throws but he hit big plays against the Eagles. Chicago jumped to a 31-13 lead and held on.
This time, the Eagles are coming in hot, winners of two straight. The defense has played better against Washington and Dallas, at least enough to say they aren’t the worst defensive team among the playoff contenders with high-powered offenses. The offense just chewed up the Cowboys last week. The Bears will need to control LeSean McCoy, while still limiting the big plays in the passing game.
The game probably means more to Philadelphia, because falling to 3-5, they’d be at least two games behind Chicago and Atlanta, as well as Detroit and the New York in the playoff race. They would lose a tiebreaker to Chicago and Atlanta in that scenario as well. And they still have the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys on the schedule. Coming out of the bye week, the Bears begin a rigorous 3-game stretch against the Eagles, Lions, and Chargers. Going 2-1 would greatly enhance their playoff chances.
A Philly win would leave both teams at 4-4, further muddling the NFC East playoff picture.
[photo via Getty]