Philadelphia, PA (CBS 2)- The Chicago Bears playoff bandwagon is close to losing its wheels following three straight losses, including last week’s 17-16 heart-breaker to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Now, the team hits the road to face the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in the Wild Card round last year on the day of the infamous “Double Doink.” The Eagles haven’t exactly lit the world on fire to start the season either, going 4-4 and only last week seemingly plugging the holes in their sinking ship with a 31-13 win over Buffalo.
The Bears’ biggest problem, which is the same as in last year’s playoff matchup between the two teams, is the play of quarterback Mitch Trubisky. He completed 65 percent of his passes last week against the Chargers, but didn’t throw a touchdown and took four sacks. Additionally, his yards per attempt for the season are at a career-low 5.6. That said, Trubisky’s inconsistent play isn’t the only problem.
The rushing attack, theoretically bolstered by the addition of draft pick David Montgomery this offseason, has yet to get any traction. The team is averaging just 83.1 yards per game on the ground, good for 26th in the NFL. On a yards-per-carry basis, the same ranking applies, with the team gaining only 3.6 yards per tote. Montgomery is the leading rusher with 366 yards on 3.7 per attempt, but no other player has more than 80 rushing yards.
Running the ball isn’t likely to be successful this week anyway, as the Eagles, outside of a 189 yard outburst by the Cowboys two weeks ago, have largely stuffed the run. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is coming off his best game of the season against the Bills, and he’ll be a handful inside once again.
The place to attack Philadelphia is in the passing game, as a leaky and banged-up secondary has given up quite a few big plays this season. The Eagles have given up the third-most 40-plus-yard passing plays in the league this season with eight. If Trubisky is able to find Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel or Anthony Miller deep, there is an opportunity for some big plays.
On the defensive side, the Eagles run game led the way last week against the Bills, with former Bears back Jordan Howard making the most of his 23 carries. Howard and rookie Miles Sanders are a combination capable of both methodically moving the ball down the field and breaking long runs. The Bears defense stiffened last week against the Chargers run game (36 yards) after allowing 150+ to both the Saints and Raiders. They will need to do so again this week in order to end the losing skid.
The Eagles are favored by five points in the matchup, but the game looks like it could be a fairly close contest on paper. So we asked CBS Minnesota sports anchor Mike Max for his thoughts.
“That’s a good question, because we have seen both of them here. I like Philadelphia. I think they found their mojo last week,” said Max. “I just think the Eagles have struggled and struggled and struggled to find an identity, but you saw Carson Wentz the other day with great pocket presence, moved around, was the leader on that team. I thought they took a real step forward, and given where both teams are, I like the Eagles in this one.”
Kick off between the Bears and Eagles from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA is set for 12:00 p.m. Central Time on Sunday.