The Chicago Bears’ defense is widely regarded as one of the best that the NFL has to offer, but fans of the team should know that the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive group is not to be overlooked.
No, the Eagles’ 23rd-ranked total defense isn’t going to scare anybody, as they give up more yards than all but one other playoff team. No, the pass defense, ranked near the bottom of the NFL, isn’t going to keep Mitchell Trubisky from throwing the ball downfield.
Where the Eagles are good, however, is in an area that’s going to pose a challenge to the Bears. This season, the Eagles have one of the NFL’s best rushing defenses, giving up 96.9 yards per game on the ground. That is going to limit the Bears’ abilities to get the run game going to milk clock and keep the ball away from Nick Foles, and the group is the best run defense that Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, and Jordan Howard have faced all season long.
The Eagles are also good at speeding up the decision-making process of quarterbacks because of their talented pass rush. Led by Fletcher Cox and Michael Bennett, the Eagles have racked up 44 sacks this season, tied for eighth-best in the NFL. They’ve also allowed just 22 touchdown passes this season, tied with the Bears for eighth-fewest in the league.
The big key for the Bears will be to replicate what they were able to do against Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams. Even without Kyle Long in the fold, they were still able to get favorable one-on-one matchups with James Daniels against the talented tackle, and they also got help from fullback Michael Burton as they kept him at bay.
This time around, the Bears will not only have to stop Cox, but they’ll also need some strong play from their tackles to keep Bennett out of the backfield. That responsibility will largely fall on Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie, but Howard will also have to get into a position to pass block, as Matt Nagy will surely want the offense to air the ball out during the game.