Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles prediction: Who will win and why

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 19, 2016 at 4:04 PM
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Chicago Bears (0-1) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Soldier Field, Chicago. -- TV: ESPN, Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters.

SERIES HISTORY: 40th regular-season meeting. Bears lead series, 28-10-1. While the Eagles won the last meeting in 2013 in Philadelphia, 54-11, the Bears have won the last two meetings in Chicago.

GAMEDATE: 9/19/16

KEYS TO THE GAME: Offensively, the Eagles will follow the same script as Week 1, trying to get their ground game going to take the pressure off their rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz. The Eagles averaged just 3.9 yards per carry against the Browns, but ran the ball 34 times, which was more than enough to keep the Cleveland defense guessing. Defensively, they will try to use a four-man rush to get pressure on quarterback Jay Cutler and force him into mistakes.

Offensively, the Bears are preparing to face a group coached by their old antagonist, Jim Schwartz. The former Lions coach runs the wide-9 defensive front and it was always one the Bears had a good plan for attacking. Running at the gap between defensive tackle and the wide-9 or split defensive end is the best approach, and it plays to the Bears' strength with a power-O type of run that uses Josh Sitton pulling to provide an extra punch on the right side with Bobby Massie and Kyle Long. Getting someone to the linebacker in that gap is more of a key than actually blocking effectively on the end. Quicker throws on time in the passing game by Jay Cutler also can work to get the ball out before the pressure arrives from the wide side. The Bears sometimes have used wide receiver screens effectively against this defense, and it's something Kevin White can do without encountering problems running pass patterns downfield.

Defensively, the Bears have to be ready for an attack using West Coast elements, chiefly quick throws and ones that likely will try to hurt them throwing to the backs to attack the edges. Defensive linemen need their hands up for throws over the middle. The Bears have to attack with caution and the blitz is something they'll only be able to do in obvious passing situations. They may drop their outside linebackers more into short coverage in this one to protect against the quick throws. Disguising coverages will be more the order of the day.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Eagles DT Fletcher Cox vs. Bears C Cody Whitehair and RG Kyle Long. Whitehair, a rookie second-rounder, and Long, who is playing through a shoulder injury, are going to have their hands full with Cox.

--Eagles WRs Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor vs. Bears CBs Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller. Matthews and Agholor both had touchdown catches in last week's win over the Browns. Porter and Fuller both are experienced cover men.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Eagles CB Jalen Mills, a rookie seventh-rounder, is expected to get a lot of playing time Monday night with Leodis McKelvin sidelined with a hamstring injury. Mills is a confident, physical corner who impressed the Eagles with his play in training camp and the preseason. It was his hit on Robert Griffin III last week that caused the arm injury that has knocked the Browns quarterback out for at least two months.

INJURY REPORT: Philadelphia -- Out: TE Zach Ertz (rib), CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring). Chicago -- Questionable: CB Kyle Fuller (knee).

FAST FACTS: Eagles QB Carson Wentz passed for 278 yards & two TDs in his NFL debut. He was the first Eagles rookie to start at QB in a season opener since 1939 (Davey O'Brien) and had the highest rating (101) by a rookie Eagles QB since John Reaves in 1972. ... Eagles WR Jordan Matthews had seven catches for 114 yards and a TD vs. Cleveland. He has at least 50 receiving yards and a score in four consecutive games, the longest streak by an Eagles player since 2004. ... Chicago WR Eddie Royal caught a touchdown pass last week. He had 90 receiving yards and scored three times in his only game vs. Philadelphia, when he was with San Diego in 2013.

PREDICTION: Wentz got off to a good start and seems to have a solid supporting cast, on both sides of the ball. A 2-0 start sounds fun.

OUR PICK: Eagles, 20-13.

--Chris Cluff.

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