Finally, a Monday Night Football game worth watching. In honor of the seemingly rare event, we’ve recruited the help of scholars for both the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles to get us properly prepped to bet this baby.
Mike Burzawa of BearGogglesOn.com
, a one-stop shop for all da superfans out dair, tackles our questions on Chicago, while Jim Kempski from the constantly updated Eagles blog BleedingGreenNation.com
dishes the goods on Philly.BEARS BREAKDOWN
It seems like there are a few Bears (Lance Briggs, Matt Forte, etc.) vocally upset about their contract situations. Do you think it’s been a distraction to the team this season?
There is definitely a bad vibe around the team with some of the contract stuff, especially Forte's situation, but it hasn't found its way onto the field. Forte is having an All-Pro season and Briggs has quietly been leading the team in tackles. I give a lot of credit to head coach Lovie Smith and the veteran leaders on this team for separating the business side from the football side.
Chicago’s completely shut down the run game for opponents in its last two games. Is this stopper unit still one of the five best in the league or were Tampa Bay and Minnesota just favorable matchups?
Tampa was beat up and essentially down to their third string running back most of the game, so I'll chalk that one up to a favorable matchup. Any time you go against Adrian Peterson, even if you know he's getting the ball, it's a tough matchup. He can make the best defenders look foolish, so I'll give credit to the Bears defense for shutting down Purple Jesus. I guess Monday night will be the tiebreaker against LeSean McCoy.CS:
Tell us why we shouldn’t worry about Chicago’s offensive line going against the Eagles pass rush.BGO:
I wish I could tell you that, but the Eagles defensive line scares the heck out of me. Cole and Babin could give the Bears tackles fits. The best thing the Bears can do to combat the aggressive Eagles defensive front is to run some quick hitting pass plays and screens to Matt Forte and 3-step drops by Cutler. If Mike Martz gets too pass happy with his usual 7-step drops going against the Eagles and their Wide 9 front and it could be a rough day for Jay Cutler.Final score prediction:
The Bears will keep it close, but in the end they don't have enough firepower to keep up with the high flying Eagles.
Eagles 23, Bears 17
It’s been asked about Andy Reid many times in the past, but we’ll ask again: Are the Eagles better off as a run-first offense?BleedingGreenNation.com:
The Eagles are the No. 1 ranked run offense in the league (just under 180 rushing yards per game), averaging more than 20 more yards per game than the next closest team (the Raiders). However, that's a smidge misleading. With Michael Vick averaging 60 rushing yards per game on what are called pass plays, "only" 120 of the 180 are coming on actual rushes.
Opposing teams are forced to give a ton of respect to the speed of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and they've been showing a lot of soft, deep cover 2 looks, which has opened up enormous holes for LeSean McCoy in the run game. I don't think the Eagles need to have the mindset of being "run-first" or "pass-first." They do both extremely well, so they're in a position where they can take what the defense gives them and make them pay either way.CS:
There’s been a lot of talk about the adjustments made to the defensive line wide-9. Do you think it’s enough to make up for a weak linebacking group?BGN:
They've made two changes that I've seen. First, as you noted, the wide 9. In the wide 9, the two DEs line up far wide, outside the TE. It allows guys like Jason Babin and Trent Cole to attack the QB, but has left the defense vulnerable up the middle in the run game. They now only line up outside the TE on obvious passing downs, and have pinched in a bit otherwise. Secondly, the linebackers are lining up closer to the line of scrimmage.
Offensive linemen were previously getting to the second level and blowing the Eagles linebackers off the ball. By positioning the LBs closer to the LOS, the Eagles defensive unit has done a better job meeting opposing O linemen in the hole before they've been able to get a head of steam. The LBs, as you noted, aren't very good as a whole, but they've been vastly improved in the past two Eagles wins.
A lot of people are back on the Eagles bandwagon. Oddsmakers have the Eagles back as the favorites to win the NFC East and third faves – behind Green Bay and New Orleans – to win the conference. Do you think this is an overreaction or has this team really figured things out?BGN:
I think what people saw Sunday night was the Eagles’ "A" game. When the Eagles have their "A" game going, they can beat anybody, and that includes the Packers. It's just a matter of consistency. Obviously, they're loaded with talent. I don't think there's much to dispute there. Are they going to play like they did Sunday night every week? No. But are they an extremely dangerous team? You bet they are.
Final score prediction:
Eagles 27, Bears 16