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Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Prediction, preview, pick to win
Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles face off with the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

CHICAGO BEARS (3-7) AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Lincoln Financial Field. TV: CBS, Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis and Pam Oliver (field reporter).

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SERIES HISTORY: 41st regular-season meeting. Bears lead series, 28-11-1. The Eagles have won the last two games, including 29-14 in 2015 at Soldier Field. The Eagles won the last game in Philadelphia between the teams, 54-11, in 2013. There have been three playoff games between them, the Eagles winning 33-19 in 2001 and 27-17 in 1979. The Bears won 20-12 in 1988.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Eagles coach Doug Pederson has been telling anyone who will listen that his 9-1 Eagles cannot afford to overlook the 3-7 Bears.

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And Pederson has a point.

The Bears have been competitive in all but two games and have wins against the Steelers and Panthers.

The Eagles' defense will need to be wary of the Chicago running game. Lost in the dust of the Eagles' second-half bombardment of the Cowboys a week ago was the performance of Dallas backup running back Alfred Morris. In a game the Cowboys lost 37-9, Morris ran for 91 yards and averaged better than five yards per carry.

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Chicago running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen pose a unique challenge. Howard leads the NFC with 841 yards while change-of-pace speedster Cohen leads the Bears with 33 receptions.

Pederson almost must keep his team from looking ahead to next week's trip to Seattle and a Week 14 matchup with the 7-3 L.A. Rams, part of three straight road games.

A week ago, in a 27-24 home loss to the Lions, the Bears held the less-than-vaunted Detroit running game to 65 yards. Keeping Jay Ajayi, power rusher LeGarrette Blount and emerging rookie Corey Clement in check will be a taller task.

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The Bears allowed just one sack of Mitchell Trubisky, but the rookie quarterback was largely responsible for that. Trubisky, who is fleet of foot like the Eagles' Carson Wentz, ran for 53 yards against the Lions.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Bears OT Bobby Massie vs. Eagles DE Brandon Graham. Once the Bears' offensive line was reunited in full force last week, they blocked with efficiency. Massie has trouble usually with smaller, quicker defensive ends like Graham. The Bears need to avoid many obvious passing situations with deep drops, and occasionally give Massie help with backs or tight ends. This matchup can have a bigger impact on the ground. Graham is the wide-9 technique on the Eagles' line and can line up outside the tight end. In the running game, Massie could be blocking him, but tight end Adam Shaheen also could do it.

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--Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery vs. Bears CB Kyle Fuller. No doubt Jeffery will want to make a big impact in this game; he has always been the type of player who is big when properly motivated. But he has had constant nagging health problems. Playing with a winning team has been the situation to keep him motivated all year. Fuller is coming off two poor to mediocre games after a series of excellent efforts. Fuller, at 5-foot-11, is usually tall enough to compete with most receivers, but Jeffery high-points very well and uses his 6-foot-3 frame, leaping ability and long arms for back-shoulder throws or in jump-ball situations. Fuller will have difficulty stopping this.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Eagles DE Derek Barnett. The first-round rookie continues to improve. He had his second two-sack game of the season in the win over the Cowboys and should get more sack opportunities against the Bears.

FAST FACTS: Chicago QB Mitchell Trubisky has two touchdowns in his past two games. He has 50-plus rushing yards in two of the past three games. ... RB Jordan Howard rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown in Week 11. He has five career games with 125 rushing yards, tied for the most in the first two NFL seasons in franchise history. He has 1,088 yards from scrimmage (98.9 per game) in 11 career road games. He aims for third in a row on the road with 100 rushing yards. ... Rookie RB Tarik Cohen has a rushing touchdown in two of the past three games. He has 33 receptions, fourth most among rookie RBs. ... DE Akiem Hicks has five sacks in the past six games. He aims for a third game in a row on the road with a sack. ... S Adrian Amos has a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in his past two road games. ... LB Christian Jones leads the team with 64 tackles. He had a team-high eight tackles and a sack in Week 11. He aims for a seventh game in a row with seven-plus tackles. ... LB Danny Trevathan has 32 tackles (10.7 per game), a sack and a fumble recovery in his past three on the road. ... Eagles QB Carson Wentz leads the NFL with 25 touchdown passes and ranks fourth with a 103.4 passer rating. He has won his past seven home starts. In his past four at home, he has 982 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. ... Rookie RB Corey Clement has four touchdowns in the past two games (three rushing). ... TE Zach Ertz has six touchdowns in his past five home games. He aims for his sixth straight home game with a touchdown catch. He leads NFC TEs in receiving yards (536) and ranks second among NFL TEs in touchdowns catches (six). ... WR Alshon Jeffery had 4,549 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns in five seasons with Chicago (2012-16). ... CB Patrick Robinson has two interceptions in the past five games at home. He had a forced fumble in his last game vs. Chicago (2016 with the Colts). ... Rookie DE Derek Barnett had two sacks and a forced fumble in Week 11, his second career multi-sack game. He ranks second among rookies with 4.5 sacks.

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PREDICTION: The Eagles are looking at a trap game. They're 9-1, with the NFC East all but clinched with six games remaining. They face two likely playoff teams the next two weeks, and the Bears have a ground game that can keep it close. But the Eagles are aware of that.

OUR PICK: Eagles, 24-17.

--Ched Whitney

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