We get your Game Day started here at Eagletarian with picks, matchups and rankings. Be sure to check back later in the day and throughout the game for Les Bowen's reports from Soldier Field.
Second update: Brian Westbrook was just out on the Soldier Field turf, walking up and down the field with Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder. Westbrook and Burkholder then conferred with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and general manager Tom Heckert It's a little more than 2 hours before the game. We don't know yet what this means, other than that the Eagles apparently really weren't yanking our chain about Westbrook being a gametime decision with the ankle injury he suffered last week.
We do know that Kevin Curtis (sports hernia), Shawn Andrews (back) and L.J. Smith (back) didn't make the trip and therefore won't be playing today, not that any of them were expected to play.
First update: Your Eagletarian isn't at Soldier Field yet, but he is on the job, on a cloudy, warmish but blustery day by the shores of Lake Michigan.
The most notable thing about the roundup of predictions from Chicago Tribune writers (and others) linked below is that every single Tribune writer -- and nine of 'em were polled, count 'em, nine -- picks the Eagles to win, by margins ranging from 4 to 14 points. Though the official NovaCare mantra this week was that the 1-2 Bears could be 3-0, having blown late leads in their last two games, folks in Chicago apparently don't see it that way. They are more into the blowing of the leads than the "almost 3-0" part, which would certainly be the case as well in Philadelphia, in that situation.
Also, many of the Trib folk probably aren't real clued in about the injuries to Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, and the very real possibility that the Birds' offense will struggle greatly if Westbrook doesn't play or isn't at full strength, as seems likely.
Further noted in the Tribune is that Cubs reliever Jeff Samardzija hopes to make it down to Soldier Field this evening to watch his former Notre Dame football teammate, Eagles rookie DT Trevor Laws.
Last night, the streets of the Windy City were awash with guys wearing Brian Dawkins and Westbrook jerseys, as is so often the case these days wherever the Eagles go. Your Eagletarian was not surprised, dining in a relatively out-of-the-way downtown establishment while watching Penn State defeat Illinois, to hear the familiar E-A-G-L-E-S! chant issue forth from fellow patrons.
Eagletarian feels there is a fine line fans should observe in such situations, somewhere between exhibiting one's passion for the Birds and not evoking comparisons with traveling English soccer boosters.
Eagletarian was a little surprised when a very large gentleman in a Phillies postseason T-shirt leaned into a group of Philadelpia sports writers and demanded to know which of us had written in support of Eagles tight end L.J. Smith. Mr. Brookover, of the Inquirer, was duly pointed out. (I'm not going to link to the story, it was in the Inquirer last week, if you didn't see it, you can find it on the site.) Brookover's point was that Smith has been kept in to block a lot the last two games and shouldn't be excoriated for not catching a ton of passes. He had the facts on his side there.
In Eagletarian's view, however, which he expressed to Mr. Brookover, the tone of his analysis was a tad preachy, and he kind of ignored the bottom line, which is that if L.J. had showed he was consistently capable of being a Jason Witten-level receiving threat, the Birds would be using him more that way, and not keeping him in to block all the time.
The large gentleman in the Phillies T-shirt had a less-nuanced stance, which he repeated many times for emphasis.
"L.J. (bleeps)," he explained to Mr. Brookover, who then dutifully trotted out his research about how many times L.J. had been sent out as a receiver, and how many times he had been a traget of a pass.
"L.J. (bleeps)," the man in the red T-shirt persisted. And so their disourse continued, punctuated by "L.J. (bleeps)," for quite some time.
Unfortunately, the establishment was rather crowded by this time, a circumstance that prevented your Eagletarian from literally rolling on the floor with laughter. But it certainly was the highlight of the trip so far.
Red T-shirt guy -- who was much more approving of Eagletarian's writings, and in fact offered to buy Eagletarian a beverage -- obviously is a man of great discernment and wit.
Here is how the Daily News staff sees tonight's game between the Eagles and Bears at Soldier Field:
Les Bowen: Eagles, 16-12 (For Les' expanded pick, click here)
Ed Barkowitz: Bears, 16-13
Bill Conlin: Eagles, 17-13
Paul Domowitch: Eagles, 24-13
Marcus Hayes: Eagles, 24-18
John Smallwood: Eagles, 20-13
Vegas Vic: Eagles, 21-12 (For Vic's full Week 4 selections, click here)
Here is roundup of other selections from writers and online staff from the Chicago Tribune, and other national experts. Click here.
THREE KEY MATCHUPS
1. Eagles MLB Stewart Bradley vs. Bears RB Matt Forte: Bradley and the Eagles' defense have held opponents to 2.4 yards per carry. Advantage: Eagles
2. Eagles RG Max Jean-Gilles vs. Bears DT Tommie Harris: Jean-Gilles, who would replace Shawn Andrews if Andrews can't go, could have difficulty dealing with the athletic Harris inside. Advantage: Bears
3. Eagles RT Jon Runyan vs. Bears LDE Adawale Ogunleye: Ogunleye is the Bears' best pass rusher, but seems to have lost a step. Advantage: Eagles
Read Paul Domowitch's full Scouting Report by clicking here.
DOMO'S NFL RANKINGS
1. Cowboys 3-0
2. Giants 3-0
3. Eagles 2-1
4. Broncos 3-0
5. Steelers 2-1
6. Packers 2-1
7. Bills 3-0
8. Titans 3-0
9. Chargers 1-2
10. Redskins 2-1
11. Bucs 2-1
12. Jaguars 1-2
13. Colts 1-2
14. Patriots 2-1
15. Panthers 2-1
16. Ravens 2-0
17. Vikings 1-2
18. Cardinals 2-1
19. 49ers 2-1
20. Seahawks 1-2
21. Dolphins 1-2
22. Saints 1-2
23. Bears 1-2
24. Jets 1-2
25. Texans 0-2
26. Falcons 2-1
27. Raiders 1-2
28. Browns 0-3
29. Bengals 0-3
30. Chiefs 0-3
31. Lions 0-3
32. Rams 0-3