Sunday, December 21, 2014

Eagles-Bears: Staff predictions, key matchups

The Eagles (7-3) visit the Chicago Bears (7-3) today at 4:15 in a battle of NFC first-place teams.

Eagles-Bears: Staff predictions, key matchups

The Eagles (7-3) visit the Chicago Bears (7-3) today at 4:15 in a battle of NFC first-place teams. 

Both teams have won three consecutive games.

Check back with Eagletarian throughout the day for breaking news and Les Bowen's reports from Soldier Field.

STAFF PREDICTIONS

LES BOWEN

Things I don't like about this game, from an Eagles perspective: 1. Good chance the Eagles won't have Asante Samuel. 2. Bears have had 10 days to prepare, half a bye week. 3. Chicago has a seriously solid defense.

Things I do like about this game: 1. Michael Vick. 2. Bears don't score a lot of points, and Jay Cutler can turn the ball over. 3. Bears have one really impressive win, over Green Bay. Other than that, they've been beating up on lower-echelon teams. Giants and Redskins have beaten them.

Expecting a low-scoring game where mistakes will be even more pivotal than usual, in what has become the Birds' annual visit to Chicago. (When did the Bears join the NFC East?) Something like a long Devin Hester punt return could be the difference between winning and losing.

Prediction: Eagles 17, Bears 13. 

PAUL DOMOWITCH 

I was tempted to pick the Bears in this game, not because I think they're a better team than the Eagles, but because it's unrealistic to think the Eagles will go unscathed through this difficult four-games-in-18-days portion of their schedule.

The Bears are 7-3 and they are playing at home and they have a defense that has given up the fewest points in the league. But they've played a Mr. Softee schedule.

Just one of the seven teams they've beaten (Green Bay) is ranked higher than 15th in the league in scoring. Just one of the seven teams they've beaten (Green Bay) has won more than five games. The combined record heading into this week of the seven teams they have beaten is 23-47.

The Eagles, meanwhile, who historically have been accused of never beating anybody that's any good, have four wins over teams with six or more wins.

Prediction: Eagles 17, Bears 13

Also:

Ed Barkowitz: Eagles, 31-17

Bill Conlin: Eagles, 20-17

Marcus Hayes: Eagles, 28-17

John Smallwood: Eagles, 24-14

Vegas Vic: Eagles, 26-24.

KEY MATCHUPS

1. Eagles CBs Joselio Hanson and Dmitri Patterson vs. Bears QB Jay Cutler. Cutler is a gunslinger who has thrown 36 interceptions in his last 25 starts. The Eagles are without Asante Samuel, who leads the league in interceptions. Patterson has played well  in place of the injured Ellis Hobbs. Turnovers have fueled the Eagles' success. Advantage: Eagles

2. Eagles WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin vs. Bears CBs Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman. Jackson and Maclin have combined for 12 touchdown catches, six more than the Bears have given up this season. Advantage: Eagles

3. Eagles LT Jason Peters vs. Bears RDE Julius Peppers. Peters has played at a Pro Bowl level since returning from knee surgery. Peppers is coming off a three-sack game vs. Miami. Advantage: Even

For Paul Domowitch's full Scouting Report, click here.


 

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About this blog
Eagletarian is your home for comprehensive coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
Paul Domowitch Daily News NFL Columnist
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