By Kevin McGuire
The NFL’s rising Super Bowl contender is about to give top quarterback draft pick Mitchell Trubisky a rude welcome to Philadelphia this weekend. The Eagles host the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field with the hopes of improving to 10-1. A matchup with the Bears appears to be a mismatch if you go off just the records, but the Bears should not be taken too lightly this week as the Eagles prepare for an upcoming gauntlet.
Here’s a look at the Bears as they make their way to Philadelphia for Week 12.
The record for the Bears tends to speak for itself. Despite some young players being developed, the Bears are who you thought they were this season, and it will be up to the Eagles to not let them off the hook. The Bears have lost their last three games, but they have been in each of their losses. This Bears team also has wins over Carolina and the Steelers this season, which only adds to the confusion in trying to figure this team out.
The Eagles have won two straight games in the series with victories in 2013 and last season.
Bears on Offense
Chicago’s offense is building around a new, young nucleus. Mitchell Trubisky, a rookie quarterback out of North Carolina, is still getting his feet wet as the newly-appointed starting quarterback for the Bears. Trubisky has shown some quick signs of improvement in a very small sample size with four touchdowns and two interceptions since mid-October. He may even find a time to run when needed.
Second-year running back Jordan Howard rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Detroit Lions. But points come at a premium for the Bears. Chicago is tied for 27th in the NFL with an average of 17.4 points per game (the Eagles lead the NFL with 31 ppg).
Bears on Defense
The Bears have been pretty decent on defense, but they can still give up some big plays. Chicago sits right in the middle of the league in defensive scoring average (22.1 ppg allowed) and they have held all but one of their opponents this season to fewer than 30 points (and that one was against the Packers with a healthy Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay). Chicago’s defense can’t seem to protect a lead and struggles to make key stops. The Eagles should manage to be effective for much of this game.
Bears Players to Watch
Tarik Cohen, Running Back: Jordan Howard may be the power running back, but the Bears have been finding ways to insert rookie Tarik Cohen into the offense and he has shown some glimpses of sizzle running the ball and catching passes. If he is on the field, the Eagles defense will have to keep an eye on him.
Kyle Fuller, Cornerback: Now in his fourth season, Fuller may not be a risk to come up with an interception, but he will do a solid job in coverage when the ball is thrown his way. Fuller has already deflected 11 passes this season, making it difficult for receivers to make a play against him.
The Bears are a good young team to keep an eye on and respect, but it is because of the youth on the roster that makes them an underdog this week, on the road against the red-hot Eagles. Count on the Eagles looking to try and get former Bear Alshon Jeffery involved in a big way, but the Eagles running game and protecting Carson Wentz should lead to the Eagles gaining the upperhand in multiple ways against the Bears this weekend.