By: Laurence Holmes-
(WSCR) Another big game for the Bears as they travel to take on Philadelphia tonight. If the Bears can find a way to win, they put themselves in a great spot to continue the playoff race. A loss with a rested Detroit coming in next week makes things more difficult. Here are the matchups I’m looking at:
Bears D vs Philly’s WMD: Everywhere you look on the Eagles offense, you see guys who make plays. LeSean McCoy is having just as good of a year as Matt Forte. In fact, when it comes to just running the ball, he’s having a better year than Forte. McCoy is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has eight rushing touchdowns. The Eagles have the best rushing offense in the NFL. His continued development makes the Eagles offense more dangerous than last year.
Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin & DeSean Jackson have the ability to take the ball to the house everytime they touch it. Their speed is going to be difficult to match up with. When they do make catces, the Bears need to be physical and punish them. Tight end, Brent Celek is athletic and deadly around the redzone. He’s the type of tight end that can actually test Brian Urlacher in coverage.
Oh, yeah, and they have Michael Vick, too. It’s a loaded team filled with weapons. The rest of the defense would be helped immensely by the front-4 getting consistent pressure on Vick. I’m curious to see how many times Julius Peppers moves around. The tackle combination of Jason Peters and Todd Hermanns have played well the last couple of weeks . Expect to see Peppers move in occassionally. In the game last year, Peppers had a sack and five QB pressures.
Michael Vick vs Chris Conte: Since taking over as the starter, Chris Conte has improved. The coaching staff loves his speed and discipline. In the game against Minnesota, he played deep and back-pedalled a ton. In the game against Tampa, he was more confident, aggressive and came up with a pick. Can he stay disciplined when Vick leaves the pocket? The Bears will want their safeties to come up and support against Vick. You need all eyes on him, but Conte will have to weigh the risk of run support against getting beat deep. Jackson and Maclin love to decoy and break long when Vick is flushed outside. Vick’s scrambling ability acts like play-action and can make safeties look dumb. This will be a real test for the young safeties, especially Conte.
DeSean Jackson vs. Devin Hester: There is no doubt that Hester is the greatest returner in the history of the league, but Jackson has that same type of speed and wiggle. In fact, SI took a poll around the NFL, and the players voted Jackson the fastest player in the league overwhelmingly. He strikes a similar fear in special teams coordinators as Hester does. Whatever team gets the big play from their returner probably gets the win.
Bears O-Line vs. The Linc & Wide-9: It’s going to be loud. Gabe Carimi is out for this game. So, Lance Louis gets another shot at right tackle. The Eagles deploy the “Wide-9” technique which I discussed in this week’s mailbag. The noise and the speed-rushers –Trent Cole and Jason Babin — are a bad combination. The Bears can’t put themselves in bad down-and-distance situations with pre-snap penalties. But they also have to be careful about being too slow off the snap.
I’ll be tweeting from Philly as soon as I get to the stadium. Follow me @lholmes670.