Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears: Three matchups to watch in Week 15
I know, I know, we’re all patiently waiting for the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys Christmas Eve contest next week. But unfortunately, we still have one more game to watch before then.
The Eagles will travel up to the Windy City on Sunday to take on the 3-10 Chicago Bears. It’ll be the first time Philly has played at Soldier Field since the infamous Double Doink game during the Wildcard round of the 2018-’19 postseason.
On paper, the Bears are completely overmatched in this contest. The Eagles are favored by nine points and aside from QB Justin Fields, the Bears are about as barebones as it gets on both sides of the ball.
This matchup is so one-sided that it’s almost not even interesting. But that’s why I’m here, to give you all at least something to keep an eye out for come Sunday.
Here are three matchups to watch when the Eagles faceoff with Chicago.
Eagles run defense vs. Bears No. 1 rushing attack (AKA, Justin Fields’ legs)
If there’s one thing the Bears are actually good at, it’s running the football. Due in large part to the explosiveness of Justin Fields, who leads his team in rushing with 905 yards while averaging over 75 yards per contest.
He boasts a 92.0 running grade per Pro Football Focus, good for third among quarterbacks. Fields has also broken off 27 runs of 10 yards or more. For context, Miles Sanders has only totaled four more explosive runs this year than Fields.
The Bears signal caller has been especially dynamic over the past four games, where he’s averaging 120.25 rushing yards per game and 9.9 yards per carry.
Aside from Fields, RB David Montgomery is Chicago’s other rushing threat. He’s having a bit of a down year in 2022 by his standards, totaling 641 yards on the ground in 12 starts while averaging four yards per carry. The team’s younger, more promising back, Khalil Herbert, is currently on IR.
Chicago runs the ball more than any team in football at a ridiculous 58.6 percent rate. It doesn’t matter if Philly manages to build a lead, Chicago is going to continue running the football. Not only because they’re pretty good at it, their pass catchers are anemic (more on that later).
The Eagles currently rank 18th in run defense. Sounds like advantage Bears, right?
For anyone’s who’s been watching the Eagles all season (I imagine that’s most, if not all of you), you’ll know the run defense has vastly improved over the past month.
Since Week 11, the Eagles defense has seen Jonathan Taylor, Aaron Jones/AJ Dillon, Derrick Henry, and Saquon Barkley. Four of the best backfields in the NFL. None of those backs cracked the 100-yard mark against Philly. Over the past two weeks, Henry and Barkley combined to rush for 58 yards on 20 attempts (2.9 YPC) against this Eagles defense.
Despite what the season-long numbers say, Jonathan Gannon’s defense is well-equipped to slow down any rushing attack they face. Chicago’s main rushing threat is their quarterback, which obviously throws a wrench into things, but the Eagles have also proven to be stout when containing rushing quarterbacks.
Facing Daniel Jones last week, the Eagles defensive line stayed disciplined in their rushing lanes to keep Jones in the pocket. The result, seven sacks.
Fields will more than likely have his moments in this contest, but as long as the Eagles don’t allow him to dictate the pace of the game with his legs, they’ll be in great shape.
Eagles secondary vs. Bears non-existent wide receiving corps
Honestly, I don’t even know if the Bears will try to throw the ball at all against Philly. I mean, why should they?
Chicago’s passing offense ranks deadlast in the NFL, averaging just 140.6 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have the best pass defense in the league, allowing an average of 178.7 yards per game through the air.
The Bears’ leading receiver, Darnell Mooney, is out for the year, leaving Chase Claypool, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Dante Pettis as Chicago’s top-three wideouts. On the year, none of them have over 300 yards receiving or 20 catches, and they’ve combined for a grand total of three receiving touchdowns.
Justin Fields has improved as a passer in his second year, but he still has a ways to go. Here’s a look at his passing stats from year one to year two:
|Yards||Completion %||Touchdowns||Interceptions||Passer Rating|
Like I said, still a long way to go here.
TE Cole Kmet is a solid pass catching option. He’s totaled 35 receptions for 408 yards and five touchdowns in 2022. But if he’s the only legitimate option for Fields in the passing game, the Eagles will easily be able to key on him and make him a non-factor.
Could Fields burst onto the scene with his arm and put together a standout passing performance? I’d give it a one percent chance of happening.
Eagles pass rush vs. Chicago’s offensive line
Want another completely lopsided matchup that favors the Birds? I gotchu.
The Eagles currently lead the NFL in sacks with 49. Haason Reddick leads the way with 10, followed by Brandon Graham (8.5), Javon Hargrave (8.0), and Josh Sweat (7.5). Chicago’s offensive line has surrendered 42 sacks on the year, good for fifth-most in the league.
Their offensive line group certainly isn’t good, but they’re also not the worst unit in the league either. The majority of those 42 sacks are on Fields, who tends to run around a lot in the backfield looking for space. Nevertheless, the Eagles pass rushing unit is tops in the league and can take over any game, especially if they’re facing a subpar line.
The lone bright spot along Chicago’s front is right guard Tevin Jenkins, who is currently the third-highest graded guard in the league per PFF. Outside of him, none of the Bears’ other offensive line starters boast an overall grade higher than 74.0. In totality, PFF grades the Bears pass protection at 68.3, 16th in the NFL. The Eagles 84.2 pass rushing mark ranks first.
Gannon’s defensive front should be able to attack Chicago’s line from anywhere they choose.
Expect to see a lot of this on Sunday: