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Wild Card Preview: Eagles at Bears Breakdown and Picks

Wild Card Preview: Eagles at Bears Breakdown and Picks
Scott Engel Managing Director January 5, 2019 12:21AM EDT

Matchup Analysis, Fantasy Picks and more for Eagles-Bears

The Bears will make their first playoff appearance since 2010 on Sunday when they host the Eagles. Last year, in his second season as the Eagles head coach, Doug Pederson won all three of his first-ever playoff games as Philadelphia finally won a Super Bowl title. Nick Foles threw six TD passes and one interception and has eight TDs and one interception all-time in the playoffs. He has a playoff Passer Rating of 113.2 and a record of 3-1. Foles has won four of five starts for the Eagles this year, including the final three games of the regular season. With Foles at QB, the Eagles beat the Rams and Texans in Weeks 15 and 16. Foles threw six TD passes with one interception in the final two games of the season.

Philadelphia won five of its final six games to procure the NFC’s final playoff berth with help from the Bears, who eliminated the Vikings in Week 17. The Bears won nine of their last 10 to seize the AFC North title. Chicago did not allow more than 20 points in their final six victories. Chicago has won seven of eight home games this season, while the Eagles split their eight road matchups.

Chicago led the NFL in Points Allowed and Rush Yards Allowed Per Game (80) and were third in Takeaway Difference (plus-13). The Eagles ranked 18th in Points Scored and 28th in Rushing Yards Per Game. They were also 25th in Takeaway Difference (minus-6). The Eagles had the seventh best run defense but were 30th against the pass. Chicago was 11th in Rushing Yards Per Game but 21st in Passing Yards Per Game. The “Foles Magic” has to overcome a tough matchup on the road, while the Bears don’t seem to have the firepower needed to expose the Eagles secondary as some other opponents have.

Despite their rank in Passing Yardage Allowed, the Eagles’ 22 TD passes surrendered were eighth best in the NFL. They also ranked eighth with 44 sacks. The mobile Trubisky, however, was sacked 33 times, the eighth-lowest mark in the league. He ranked fifth among QBs with 421 rushing yards. The Eagles allowed 265 rushing yards to QBs, which was 19th in the league, and their four rushing TDs allowed to the position was tied for second most.

The Eagles will need to get to Trubisky with fearsome defensive linemen Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett, hoping pressure from that trio can force him into mistakes. Trubisky failed to throw more than one TD pass in five of his final seven regular season games and threw for more than 250 yards once in his final eight games. He also rushed for more than 25 yards just once in his final seven games. He does not appear to be a major threat to light up the Eagles defense and should be focused on avoiding errors in his first postseason game. He had 15 turnovers in 14 games this season.

As outlined by FanSided, Allen Robinson can have advantages against either of Philadelphia’s top CBs, and Taylor Gabriel could have a speed edge if matched up with Rasul Douglas, but he did not have a 65-yard game in the second half of the season. Anthony Miller could be a difference-maker in the slot. He caught seven TD passes in his rookie campaign. TE Trey Burton will be in a “Revenge Game” script against the team he became eternal with for the “Philly Special.” But the Eagles were ninth-best in TE Yardage Allowed this season, and yielded a league-low two TD catches to the position. Robinson is regarded as the team’s most potent pass-catcher, but he had one 100-yard game and four TD catches in 13 games. He is a model of how Chicago’s pass-catching crew lacks any upside,

Tarik Cohen is the major factor for the Bears in this game, as the Eagles allowed 110 receptions to running backs, the second-highest mark in the NFL, along with 844 receiving yards, the third-highest total allowed by NFC teams. The plan for Trubisky should be to get rid of the ball quickly to Cohen and his WRs and let them gain yardage after receptions. Jordan Howard finished the year strong with four TD runs in his final three games and two 100-yard outings in his last four. If both Chicago RBs perform well pressure will be eased on Trubisky and the Bears will be hard to beat in this one.

First-team All-Pro free safety Eddie Jackson could be a game-time call because of an ankle injury. CB Kyle Fuller had a career-best seven interceptions and led the league in pass deflections with 21. Chicago led the league with 21 INTs and allowed a league-low 6.3 Yards Per Attempt. They also led the NFC with 50 sacks, paced by superstar Khalil Mack’s 12.5. He also had 13.5 tackles for a loss and forced six fumbles. The Eagles allowed 40 sacks, middle of the pack in the NFL, but they are strong at the offensive tackle spots and Foles will be very wary of Mack disrupting his rhythm.

Alshon Jeffery will be looking for revenge against his former team and Zach Ertz could benefit if Jackson is out. Chicago did allow 222 receptions to opposing WRs, third most in the NFC, so Jeffery could have a respectable day in terms of catch totals. But Chicago’s 641 receiving yards allowed to TEs was third-best in the NFC. Their 556 receiving yards allowed to RBs was also third-best in the conference. Darren Sproles is the Eagles’ best threat out of the backfield, as it will be difficult to envision Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood stacking up much yardage as part of Philadelphia’s committee.

The Eagles have more notable playmakers in their passing game, as Nelson Agholor also finished the season well, and have a winning QB/coach combo. There is a path to victory if they can harass Trubisky consistently and contain Cohen. But Chicago’s defense may simply be ultimately too difficult to overcome on the road, and they have looked nearly unbeatable in those regards during the second half of the season.

FANTASY TAKES: Cohen is a fine RB play in all Fantasy Postseason formats and his versatility and upside are very attractive in multiplier formats. Howard is worth rostering for continued TD potential. Miller is an interesting play as he may have a good matchup this week and he gets looks near the goal line. Foles could be a pivotal play if you believe the great story will continue past the first round. Jeffery is also worth a shot if you feel strongly about the Eagles playing more than one game. Sproles remains relevant in PPR Playoff leagues, as he has the most Fantasy potential of any Philadelphia RB.

DFS VIEWS: On the FanDuel Sunday slate, Foles is the cheapest and most daring QB play at $7,600. None of the other three passers inspire great confidence statistically, as even Lamar Jackson was held in check as a rusher last time he faced the Chargers. Cohen is a lock at $7,000, even in a half-PPR format. Sproles is a worthy value play at $5,500. Jeffery seems too steep at $7,500 initially, but he and Keenan Allen are the only premier WRs on the slate. Roll with Jeffery over Allen and you can save money for other positions. Miller is a very good value at $4,800. Ertz will cost you $7,600 but you should take the shot in tournaments. On the full DraftKings weekend slate, Foles is the lowest priced starting QB at $5,400 and is a very gutsy pick for tournaments. You can choose to stack him with Ertz at $6,400. Cohen is a lock in full PPR on DK at $5,400. Howard is another potential value for TD possibilities at 4,600. Jeffery is friendlier at $5,900 and Miller is a prime punt play at $3,900.

GAME PREDICTION: The Bears will make the big stops and defensive plays when it counts again. You could see a defensive score in this one. Trubisky is not error-prone and won’t make any disastrous mistakes. The Eagles will not cover (+6.5) and I will take the under (41.5). Chicago 24, Philadelphia 16.

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