DON’T SLEEP ON THE BEARS, THEY MIGHT JUST MIGHT EAT YOU

Al Thompson
Carson Wentz says Eagles will not look ahead of Chicago. Photo by Andy Lewis / contrastphotography.com

If you think the Eagles (9-1) will just roll over the Chicago Bears (3-7) because of their records this year, think again.

The Bears three wins came against the PIttsburgh Steelers (8-2), the Baltimore Ravens (5-5) and Carolina Panthers (7-3).

Of their seven losses there were to blowouts to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( 22 points) and the Green Bay Packers (21 points).

The five other losses were to the Atlanta Falcons (6 pts), Minnesota Vikings (3 pts), New Orleans Saints (8 pts), Packers (6 pts) and the Detroit Lions ( 3 pts).

POSITIVES FOR EAGLES
The Birds are the No. 1 scoring team in the NFL at this point. Carson Wentz is on everyone’s list for possible MVP honors. Wentz leads the NFL with 25 touchdown passes and is near the top in quarterback rating with 103.4.

Wentz says he is fresh both with his mind and body.

“The bye week came at a perfect time for that,” Wentz said. “I think everybody just thought the bye falling in the middle of the year was a perfect break for us all both mentally and physically. Then we came back after that bye week, we were all pretty hungry, you could tell and ready to get back to it.”

The Eagles running attack is unique and potent. Newcomer Jay Ajayi has 168 yards rushing and a TD in his first two games, LeGarrette Blount has 561 yards on 122 carries on the season with two TDs. Rookie Corey Clement has four TDs over the last two games and is tied for the team lead with six touchdowns.

Head coach Doug Pederson talked about his three-headed monster.

“Well, obviously they are three different runners and three different skill sets,” Pederson said. “So it can throw a defense off a little bit with different run schemes that we design for each runner. But really when Duce [Staley] and I sit down with Stout [Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] and Eugene Chung [Off asst coach ] and we go through the run game and we say, ‘Okay, who do we want to give this run to?’ Really, all three of them, or all four of them, if you throw Kenjon [Barner] in there, they all have to know them. But at the same time, we kind of go into the game and say, ‘LeGarrette these are yours and Corey, these are yours,’ and it’s the same way with Jay [Ajayi].

“The guys have done a great job, obviously. They have been unselfish about it. If we keep running the ball the way we’re doing, we’ll keep everybody happy.”

The Eagles defense is No. 1 against the run and has a give/take ratio that is No. 2 in the NFL at 20/10.

WHAT COULD HURT THE EAGLES
Looking ahead. This is a 3-7 team the Birds play before embarking on a three-game road trip that includes West Coast matchups against the Los Angeles Rams (7-3) and the Seattle Seahawks (6-4) before heading up to MetLife Stadium to take on the Giants (2-9). Wentz was asked about how this team keeps from looking ahead.

“I think that’s something we’ve done so well this year, is staying in the moment, winning every day, winning the week,” Wentz said. “I know sometimes it sounds redundant, sounds cliche but it’s really what we do. It’s the mindset we have around here, every practice, every rep…guys are going all out, guys are locked in, focused. I don’t think we have guys who are going to let any of that slip away.”

WHAT HELPS THE BEARS
Josh Sitton 6-3, 320 pound four-time Pro Bowler and All NFL guard is still a force at 31 years of age and has helped pave the way for running back Jordan Howard to rush for 192 times for 841 yards (third in NFL) and five touchdowns.

Linebacker Leonard Floyd is in his second year out of Georgia. In ten games this year, the 6-foot-6, 251 pounder has 34 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, two defended passes, a recovered fumble and a safety.

Defensive end Akiem Hicks leads the Bears with seven sacks. He may not play.

Wentz was asked about the Bears defense.

“They have a big, physical front,” Wentz said. “They have some solid linebackers, Leonard Floyd is a really good football player and on back end they’re really solid as well.”

Rookie quarterback Michell Trubisky has two TDs and no interceptions in the Bears last two games. He is 77 of 145 for 988 yards, four TDs and two interceptions on the season.

Wentz was asked if he related to what Trubisky is going through as a rookie. He punted.

“I haven’t been paying attention to much to what he’s been doing,” Wentz said. “We have the same agent so I know Mitch, we talked and hung out a little but before the draft He’s a great dude, a great kid. He’s a competitor. But I really couldn’t comment too much on how he’s been playing because I haven’t followed it too much.”

WHAT CAN HURT THE BEARS
What hurts the Bears are the giveaway/takeaways. Chicago is a minus-5 on the season. The Eagles are second in the NFL plus 10 in that category.

The Bears have one of the worst scoring offenses in the NFL putting up just 17.4 points per game.
They will be facing and Eagles team that has been making teams one-dimensional and the one thing the Bears do well is run the ball. The Eagles are the best this year in stopping the run.

Also defensive end Hicks may not play.

Pederson talked about that as an asset but warns his team not to take it for granted.

“Yeah, you try to go in and at least take one aspect of a team’s offense away and it usually is indicative of the run game. You try to stop the run game. Our defense does an outstanding job smothering the run. This [Chicago] team is patient that way. Again, they have a young quarterback, so obviously they are trying to help him as much as they can and move him around, too. [They try to] move the pocket a little bit with some of the play-action and some of the boots that they do which come off of that run game.
“It’s a patient offense and one that, defensively, we have to get ready for that physical game that way. [We have to get ready] to be able to tackle, try to eliminate the big rush and just try to smoother it and take it away.”

PREDICTION: Eagles 38, Chicago 17.

26 Nov 17 - Eagles, Football, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles - Al Thompson - No Comments

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