PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles came up huge in their win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 8. Many considered the 31-13 win to be a season-salvaging victory. Will the Eagles be able to keep the momentum going as they take on a 3-4 Chicago Bears team?
CBS3’s football experts have your weekly breakdown and predictions.
Following a disastrous loss to the Cowboys and off-the-field drama, the Birds pulled out a big win in Buffalo. Did the victory salvage the Eagles’ season?
Sports director Don Bell: It feels really dramatic to call it a “save the season win,” but that’s exactly what it was. It widened the margin for error during their second-half playoff push.
Sports reporter Lesley Van Arsdall: Well, it certainly helps. A loss last week in Buffalo would have been disastrous to the Eagles’ playoff hopes. A win changes everything, but only time will tell if this was a turning point or a brief glimmer of success.
Reporter Pat Gallen: Absolutely. They kept pace with Dallas, and if they can get through this next three-game stretch at 1-2 or 2-1, it sets them up nicely for the final five games, which I think are all winnable. That win keeps 10-6 in play, which is probably the number they’ll need for the division.
Sports producer Andy Wheeler: My answer is, we’ll see. One win doesn’t salvage the season but it certainly can turn around some of the negative momentum.
Reporter Dan Koob: In terms of salvaging interest, yes — 3-5 and 4-4 are galaxies apart. Thanks, Orlando Scandrick.
2. The Eagles’ run game came up huge, rushing for 218 yards and scoring three touchdowns. More run plays were called because of the nasty weather in Buffalo, but should Doug Pederson be relying more on Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders with the passing game still having its issues?
Bell: The 218 rushing yards is an anomaly. The Eagles had the luxury of patience because they didn’t trail by double digits like they had in six of their previous seven games. They also faced an offense that had limited quick-strike capability. Relying on the run sounds good in theory, but on most Sundays, they’ll need Carson to create offense with his arm.
Van Arsdall: We saw the run game shine in Green Bay and again last Sunday in Buffalo — both huge wins. So yes, that balance is clearly a recipe for success. But don’t discount the passing game. Once DeSean Jackson is back and healthy, his legs and Carson Wentz’s arm are the two biggest weapons this team has.
Gallen: I do think the game plan was to run the ball more, regardless of the conditions in Buffalo. Pederson understands the issues with the passing game, and establishing the run is super important. However, the issue of run vs. pass is really solved on a game-by-game basis. Obviously, when you fall behind 14-0 as they did in Dallas, the rushing attack takes a back seat. No choice. But the offensive line loves to road grade and Jordan Howard is good for four to six yards per pop. So setting the tone via running is crucial.
And if DeSean Jackson is ready to go, he opens up a new facet of the offense, which then aides the run game even more. It’s all connected.
Wheeler: I think Doug needs to continue to do whatever works during every individual game. For whatever reason, the run game was working in Buffalo, so they went with that. If throwing gets it done, then you throw.
One of my problems with Doug was that it didn’t seem like he was adjusting to what was working as the game went on. This week the run worked and they stuck with it. That needs to continue.
Koob: Want to keep Khalil Mack from pinning his cliches back and getting after Carson? Run the ball. An offensive line loves when they can manhandle a defensive unit, something they did against Buffalo. While Chicago’s D doesn’t allow a ton of running room, I think Doug gives the ground game an honest try if Miles Sanders is available.
Well, that was an uneventful trade deadline. After picking up defensive end/linebacker Genard Avery from the Cleveland Browns on Monday, the Eagles did nothing on Tuesday. Did the Eagles cost themselves a chance to make a dent in the playoffs by not making any big moves?
Bell: They didn’t ruin their chances at a playoff run, but they didn’t improve them. They believe they’re adding talent simply by getting healthy. Avonte Maddox, Tim Jernigan, Darren Sproles and hopefully DeSean Jackson give them more value than any potential trade when you consider they’re not giving up assets to insert them into the lineup.
Van Arsdall: Simply put, yes. The Eagles needed to make a deal at the deadline. The defense has shown some serious holes this season. I’m shocked that Howie Roseman wasn’t able to pull off something to add defensive depth. Maybe the price was too high or the offers weren’t there. But with this team sitting at 4-4 and fighting to remain relevant, they should have made a move.
Gallen: You can’t make moves just for the sake of making them. We have to trust that the asking price was too high for a lot of the game-changing talent that was available. At some point, you just have to walk away. Does that hurt the Eagles? Well, it doesn’t help them.
They needed to upgrade at a few positions. But, you know what? So did other teams. And a lot of the players who were thought to be on the move around the league stayed put. So I don’t look at it as costing themselves a chance. The market just wasn’t ripe for trades to be made without major overpays.
Wheeler: This is a pet peeve of mine. We don’t know that a “big move” was available to make. If there was and the Eagles didn’t do it, we have to trust Howie Roseman’s judgment as to why he didn’t. Maybe a big move was too costly in his opinion. That’s what he gets paid for, so you have to go with his decision.
If there was a move out there that would, with certainty, put the Eagles in the playoffs for a reasonable price, I’m sure Howie would have done it. We just don’t know what was available to us and what wasn’t.
Koob: Well, they didn’t do nothing. They tried on Jalen Ramsey, Darius Slay, Chris Harris and probably Patrick Peterson and probably the beefiest dude working at your local deli for defensive line help. You can’t just shovel your draft picks away. I’m all for using draft capital if it gets you controllable contracts, but at some point, the price is too high.
It’s fair to say this championship window isn’t going to stay open long, but the best way to extend it is to hit on picks — hi, Howie. You can’t if you don’t have them.
The Bears have one of the worst offenses in the league, averaging only 18.3 points per game. However, their defense is ranked in the top 10. Who on the Bears could make it difficult for the Eagles on Sunday?
Bell: Khalil Mack is the best defensive player the Eagles have seen all season. He’s a game-wrecker. He has 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. By his standards – subpar. Watch out for No. 52.
Van Arsdall: Two words: Khalil Mack. He’s a monster on defense, plays all over the field and makes plays that change the course of a game. One stat to watch out for — Mack has four forced fumbles this year. The Eagles haven’t been great at hanging onto the football this year. Mack could be a major problem.
Gallen: Everyone on earth should say Khalil Mack. He’s a three-time All-Pro, a four-time Pro Bowler, and the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year. He’s scary. But he’s legitimately the ONLY person on the Bears’ roster that is truly scary.
Wheeler: Mitch Trubisky. We know the defense will be a tough test. However, if somehow, someway Trubisky has a good game, the Birds could be in a lot of trouble. This is a team that almost knocked the Eagles out of the playoffs last year. If not for kicker Cody Parkey, they would have. As bad as the offense has been, you have to respect them and prepare for them like they can give you trouble.
Koob: I’ll be honest, we’re all on the same email thread and I peeked ahead and saw Andy said Mitchell Trubisky and I laughed for like a minute straight — out loud… to myself… in a live truck.
Thank you, Andy.
FYI — Khalil Mack has four tackles and zero sacks against Lane Johnson in two career games.
Bell: The Bears are a carbon copy of the Bills; powerful defense, suspect offense. Eagles win 29-16.
Van Arsdall: Eagles win a close one, 17-10.
Gallen: The Bears just don’t have enough offense to keep up. Eagles 27-19.
Wheeler: I’ll be the negative guy I’m sure, but I’ll say Bears win 17-14. Nothing would be more fitting than the Eagles losing this week and subjecting us to two weeks of negative sports talk because of it.
Koob: Offenses have been able to get healthy against the Eagles but Trubisky is terrible. Matt Nagy had to come out this week and announce Chase Daniels, the backup, wasn’t starting.
Birds win going into the bye, 27-14. (*coughs* I’m 1-6 in picks *coughs*)