Game Scout: Bears at Eagles

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Chicago Bears (8-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia - TV: NBC
*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
*Keys to the game: Two of the NFL's five worst defenses and unseasonably warm temperatures could set the stage for an entertaining game with dramatic playoff implications. RB LeSean McCoy averages 5.0 yards per carry and is rested after getting just eight carries at Minnesota last week. Chicago ranks 32nd (last) in the NFL against the run thanks to overeager rookie LBs Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene taking poor angles to the ball. McCoy's quickness and Barry Sanders-like change-of-direction agility and acceleration leaves the most seasoned tacklers grasping at air. But Philadelphia can pop big plays over the top if the Bears overstuff the box to contain McCoy. QB Nick Foles, who averages 9.0 yards per attempt, has thrown just two interceptions. Chicago needs field-flipping takeaways to win on the road. The Bears are leaning heavily on RB Matt Forte, who has 1,722 yards from scrimmage. The strategy protects an average offensive line and in theory sets up QB Jay Cutler to throw against run looks.
*Matchup to watch - Eagles TEs Zach Ertz and Brent Celek vs. Bears linebackers: Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly will find a formation that exposes the Bears' underneath coverage, opening wide alleys for McCoy and WR DeSean Jackson to isolate single coverage in the open field.
*Player spotlight - Bears DT Jeremiah Ratliff: With edge pass rush a concern, Ratliff is getting into the backfield from the three-technique and drawing praise for his ability to read keys pre-snap.
*Fast facts: The past three meetings were all decided by six or fewer points. ... The Bears had eight forced fumbles in the first four games of the season, but none since (632 plays).
With time to set up and scan the field, Eagles QB Nick Foles delivers the big plays needed to derail the surging Bears in a critical game for both teams' playoff aspirations.
*Our pick: Eagles 27-20

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