Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
When: 4:40 PM ET, Sunday, January 6, 2019
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears opened the door for the Philadelphia Eagles to defend their Super Bowl crown with a suffocating performance against Minnesota in the regular-season finale. The third-seeded Bears bid to shut that door just as swiftly on Sunday when they host the sixth-seeded Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago in an NFC wild-card game.
Mitchell Trubisky took a giant step forward following last year’s rookie season, recording a franchise-best four games with a 120-plus quarterback rating while throwing for 24 touchdowns and rushing for three more as Chicago elevated from the NFC North’s outhouse to the penthouse. Coach Matt Nagy stressed for Trubisky “to not change. For him to continue to do just what he does (and) don’t put any extra added pressure on himself.” Quarterback Nick Foles thrived under that glaring spotlight last season, guiding the “underdog” — albeit top-ranked — Eagles to three straight wins while securing Super Bowl MVP honors for himself in the process. The 29-year-old Foles (ribs) participated fully in Thursday’s practice for Philadelphia, which returns to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since the 2009-10 seasons and bids to become the first repeat Super Bowl champion since the 2003-04 New England Patriots.
TV: 4:40 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Bears -6. O/U: 41
ABOUT THE EAGLES (9-7): While Alshon Jeffery relished his meeting against his former team last year, Sunday’s contest carries more weight since it’s a playoff tilt as opposed to another battle against the Bears. “I don’t have any feelings, honestly. It’s a playoff game,” said the 28-year-old Jeffery, who spent the first five years (2012-16) of his career in the Windy City. “… We’re playing the Bears, but if we were playing anybody else, I still couldn’t wait to play this game. I’m excited to be in the playoffs.” Jeffery enjoyed one of the best postseasons in Eagles’ history last winter, rolling up 219 receiving yards and three touchdowns in wins over Atlanta, Minnesota and New England. Pro Bowler Zach Ertz set an NFL record this season for catches (116) by a tight end to go along with a career-best 1,163 receiving yards.
ABOUT THE BEARS (12-4): Chicago’s bread and butter is an aggressive defense that is ranked No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed (17.7), yards per play permitted (4.78), passing yards per play (5.29), takeaways (36) and interceptions (27). Trade acquisition Khalil Mack recorded 8.5 of his club-best 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles at Soldier Field, helping the Bears to a 7-1 mark at home this season. The running game slowly gained traction, with rugged Jordan Howard boosting his touchdown total to a career-high nine with four in the last three games — including a pair in Sunday’s 24-10 victory versus the Vikings. Versatile Tarik Cohen provided a potent threat out of the backfield with 1,169 scrimmage yards (725 receiving, 444 rushing), becoming one of five Bears to earn Pro Bowl honors this season.
1. Philadelphia Pro Bowl DT Fletcher Cox notched three of his team-leading 10.5 sacks in Sunday’s 24-0 win over Washington.
2. Chicago TE Trey Burton, who gained famed as the “quarterback” of the Philly Special in Super Bowl LII, had five receptions in each of his last two contests.
3. Philadelphia CB Rasul Douglas reeled in two of his club-best three interceptions in the last four games.