Posted on January 5, 2019, by Travis Pulver
This is probably the most intriguing game of Wildcard Weekend. Why? Because a case could be made for the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles to be considered the hottest team in the NFL right now. The Bears have won nine of their last ten games, and they didn’t have their starting quarterback for that loss.
As for the Eagles, they lost their starting quarterback and then closed the season with three consecutive wins (and five in their last six).
Both have been playing their best when it matters most. As New York Giants fans know all too well, get hot at this time of year can definitely lead to the Super Bowl. But first, one is going to have to cool the other down.
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The Eagles have been holding strong to the party line since Carson Went went down with an injury—he is our starting quarterback. He is the quarterback of the future for this team. But when you consider how well Nick Foles has played for the Eagles, it is not hard to wonder if there is a point where they decide to keep him over Wentz.
The team was 6-7 under Wentz and looked nothing like a team worthy of being in the playoffs, let alone being competitive. But then Foles led the Eagles to wins over the Rams, Texans, and Redskins. The Redskins game wasn’t a super-impressive one for Foles (who was injured in the game). But he certainly was against the other two.
Philly’s defense seems to be feeding off the success of the offense somewhat and has been turning in better games, too. But Foles has yet to face a good defense. The Rams (14th) and Redskins (15th) don’t have bad pass defenses. But they aren’t really good either. Houston’s was just bad.
Chicago, however, has one of the best defenses in the league. They are not going to be easy to pass on (seventh) and the Eagles weak run game will likely get nowhere against the Bears top-ranked run defense.
The Bears defense is good enough to give Mitchell Trubisky time to get over any anxiety he may have over starting in this first playoff game. Getting his run game on track early one would help as well, but the Eagles haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last three games.
It will all depend on which quarterback can break past the other’s defense first. Foles gets a leg up because of his playoff experience and success from last season. When he faced a really good Vikings defense in last year’s Conference Championship, he shredded them for 352 yards.
But a case could be made that the Bears defense is a lot better than the Vikings were last year. Foles is not going to have the benefit of a decent running game, which will allow the Bears to dial up the pressure even more.
Foles is good enough to keep it interesting, but his magic will not be enough to save the day this time. Chicago’s defense is too good and their offense is good enough to put some points on the board against the Eagles.
So, take the Bears to win, straight up and against the spread (-6.5). As for the over/under (41.5)—this one is tough. If the Bears play their game, the Eagles are not going to score very much. Don’t count on the Bears to run up the score, either. Take the under.