Originally posted on Buzz On Broad  |  Last updated 11/6/11


The Eagles may have not played yesterday, but that didn't change the fact that their path to the playoffs got alot harder by the end of football Sunday.

When Eli Manning drove the New York Giants to a game winning touchdown over the New England Patriots, he moved the Giants record to 6-2. Many Eagles fans had the Giants losing that game, but now that they can put it in the win column, the Monday night matchup with the Chicago Bears became all that more important. 

Win, and the Eagles keep pace with the Giants and stay two games back. Lose, and they fall 3 games behind. 

Can the Eagles beat the Bears for only the 2nd time in 6 games and keep their season alive? Check out our official preview below for key matchups and a prediction.

Quarterbacks



Reid, Eagles Expect Physical Game from Bears

The Eagles are on a two game winning streak, and seem to have turned things around after a 1-4 start- but that could all change with one big hit on Michael Vick, something Andy Reid is very much aware of.

As they try to bring their record to .500 on Monday night against the Chicago Bears, Reid says he would not be surprised to see the Bears go after Vick.

"Rod Marinelli is their defensive coordinator and he makes sure they hustle to the ball," said Reid. "Whether it's in the quarterbacks hands or not, they're flying around. Our team knows that."

"They play a nice, tight, sound, disciplined scheme, and it's something that they've always been good at," said Vick. "They find ways to get it done."

One way the Bears will make get chance to get a shot at Vick is with the blitz. Vick did a great job picking apart the Dallas Cowboys blitz on Sunday night, as he recognized a blitz multiple times and optioned to another play. The improvement since last season is clear, says coach Reid.

"You're not going to hit every one against the blitz," said Reid on how successful Vick has been on recognizing the blitz. "That's an area that he wanted to get better at. He learned the offense, got a good grasp of it, executed it well last year, and then this year he took it up."

"I think after what I saw last week (vs. Dallas) with everything that they did it makes me very optimistic that I can go out and execute against any defense," said Vick. "I think I have the ground rules and know what it takes to make sure I can get us in the right protection calls and make the plays downfeild when necessary."

Reid said that in addition to picking up the blitz better, Vick has been doing a good job getting the ball out quicker. Vick did a good job last year against the Bears, as he went 29 of 44 for 333 yards and two touchdowns. But the one interception he threw proved to be costly when a ball was tipped and intercepted at the goal line. That could prove to be a problem again for Vick this week, as he has had problems with his passes being tipped this year- and with the strong play at linebacker for the Bears, those tipped passes could once again be interceptions. 

"It starts upfront with the Bears," said Reid. "They get off the ball, their linebackers are very disciplined. Brian Urlacher leads that, Lance Briggs is right there. They've played together a long time, and they're not good. 



Key Players

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles- Jackson could not have been happy this week when reports surfaced that the Eagles were talking about a contract extension with LeSean McCoy, since he has been trying to get a new deal since last season. But the simple but painful fact for Jackson is that McCoy has put up numbers, and Jackson has not. DeSean has only 27 catches and 2 touchdowns on the season, and has yet to strike for a long touchdown. With the Bears likely to stack up to stop McCoy, Jackson needs to break out and make them pay by going deep for a long touchdown. 

Devin Hester, WR, Bears- It's no secret what Devin Hester can do in the return game. No one argued with Eagles special teams coordinator Bobby April this week when he said that Hester is the greatest of all time- which is exactly why he more than likely won't get any chances to hurt the Eagles in the return game on Monday night. But that doesn't mean that he can't hurt the Eagles in the passing game, as Hester has 13 receptions for 172 yards in 4 games versus Philadelphia. If the Bears can get Hester going in the passing game, it will allow the Bears other weapons- Matt Forte, Roy Williams- to get going.

 Julius Peppers, DE, Bears- Peppers may only have 4 sacks on the season, but that won't change the fact that he will be the number one name on Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd's list this week. Peppers caused major problems for the Eagles offensive line last year in the Bears 31-26 victory over the Eagles, as he had a sack and a forced fumble. Look for Mudd to make sure that Jason Peters or Todd Herremans always have extra help to keep Peppers out of the backfield.

Chas Henry, P, Eagles- Henry has been solid for the Eagles this season, but he also has not been called upon in any big situations. That will change Monday night, when Henry will be asked to punty away from Devin Hester all night. It may sound simple, but if Henry is unable to punt the ball out of bounds down the field- and not 20 yards from the line of scrimmage- the Eagles will have no choice but to punt to Hester. Henry showed at LeHigh is capable of kicking some bombs when asked to, and in addition to directional punting, he will need to get plenty of hangtime under his kicks on Monday night to give his teammates time to get down the field. 

By The Numbers: 

+4: The Bears turnover differential on the season. 

5.2: Yards per carry allowed by the Bears defense.

449- Yards per game by the Eagles offense, 1st in the NFL

-7: The Eagles turnover differential on the season.



Eagles Offense vs. Bears Defense

Eagles Passing Game vs. Bears Secondary

Michael Vick did not get any headlines last week, but that doesn't change the fact that he had a very effective game. What was more impressive about Vick was that he had no interceptions, which is the first time he has done that since the first week of the season. Turning the ball over is always important, but it is even more critical this week as he can really pick apart this Chicago Bears secondary if he can stay away from interceptions.

How bad is the Chicago Bears secondary? For starters, of the 32 teams in the NFL, 27 of them defend the pass better. The Bears give up 271 yards per game through the air, and have allowed 11 passing touchdowns. Chicago's cornerbacks are average at best in Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, but it is their safety play that really hurts them. Brandon Merriweather has been benched for his poor play, and has been replaced by Chris Conte. 

DeSean Jackson could have a breakout game if the Bears secondary plays to the level they have all season.

Advantage: Eagles

Eagles Rushing Games vs. Bears Front Seven

The Bears have done a good job against the run this season, and currently stand at 11th in the league as they give up just over 108 yards per game. Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg talked about why they have been so good, and he was clear that it all starts with the Bears linebackers. Brain Urlacher and Lance Briggs are playing great football for the Bears, and Morhinweg pointed out how disciplined in their assignments.

Staying in your lane as a defender is a good way to contain LeSean McCoy, as he loves to run to one side then cut back once the entire defense has abandoned their assignments. The Bears could have some success against McCoy, but until a defense shows they can contain McCoy, it's not a good idea to think they will. 

Advantage: Eagles


Eagles Defense vs. Bears Offense

Bears Passing Game vs. Eagles Secondary:

As a passing attack, the Chicago Bears are a hit or miss unit. With Jay Cutler under center and Devin Hester on the outside, they have the potential to strike big on any play. When he is on his game, Jay Cutler can make any throw in the game. With an awful offensive line in front of him, it's a miracle that he has been able to put up the numbers he has. Hester may not be the ideal possession receiver, but like in the punt game, he is capable of taking a quick screen pass and taking it 80 yards to the house.

But as it is with any hit-or-miss passing attack, the Bears don't have the talent to keep it going for an extended amount of time. That shows in the statistics, as the Bears are 18th in the league in passing yards. Other then Hester, their receivers lack the ability to make a big play. 

The Eagles secondary is a top ten unit in the league, and has really come together in the past few weeks. They held Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense to just over 200 yards through the air, and held the Washington Redskins passing game in check the week before as well. They have been able to do it behind improved play from the safeties, as well as Nnamdi Asomugha finally playing like the player the Eagles thought he would be when they signed him.

Advantage: Eagles

Bears Running Game vs. Eagles Front Seven:

Don't look now, but the Eagles are slowly climbing their way up the ladder of NFL defenses against the run.

After being in the bottom 5 for the beginning of the season, the Eagles are now 17th in the league and allow 118 yards per game. They have done it by tweaking (but what in many ways is just abandoning) the Wide 9 Technique, and the big holes that were there to start the season on the defensive line are no longer there. Whether it is because of the help they are getting up front or not, the fact is that the linebackers- especially Jamar Chaney and Brian Rolle- have also really stepped up their play.

The new and improved run defense will get a big test this week, as they go against one of the best running backs in the league in Matt Forte. Forte may only have two touchdowns on the ground, but he has close to 700 yards and possesses the ability to cut on a dime with a big frame. Forte is running on a mission- a mission to get a new contract- and will look to use the Monday Nigh Football stage as another platform to show Chicago management he deserves a new deal.

Advantage: Bears

Prediction: 

Like each of the Eagles game this season, when the football is kicked off, the most talented team will be on the home team sideline. The Eagles are better at each and every position besides linebacker and kicker- and have way more player makers on both sides of the ball then the Bears.

But also like each of the past Eagles games, it will come down to the teams ability to get out of it's own way. Early in the season, the Eagles beat themselves with turnovers and boneheaded plays, but those went away last week and the results showed what this team could be- a 34-7 thrashing of a Dallas Cowboys team that is way better then the Chicago Bears, despite what the records show.

This week, the Eagles need to get out of their own way mentally, as it will be easy to walk onto the field Monday night feeling like they have turned the corner and the season is saved. While their is some truth to that, this team cannot come out and play without the fire and concentration that it showed last week.

If they can play even 75% of the game they played last week, they should be the Bears handily. But if the mental errors, slow starts and lack of effort shows up once again, they will lose the game.

Look for Andy Reid to have his team ready to go.

The Pick: Eagles 35, Bears 17

Follow Buzz on Broad Eagles Beat Writer Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks

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