The final contest of the first weekend in the NFL playoffs will feature the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles traveling to take on the NFC North winning Chicago Bears. It was an up-and-down season for Philadelphia, as they lost their starting quarterback for the second season in a row, but rallied with three straight victories to finish 9-7, earning the final wild-card spot in the NFC. The Bears finished 12-4 behind a dominating defense as they won their final four games of the season.
NFL: Sunday, January 6, 2019, Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Nick Foles Leads Eagles to Return to Playoffs
Their playoff hopes looked dashed when the Philadelphia Eagles lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz for the second straight season but, as he did in 2017, Nick Foles came off the bench to help lead the team to victories in five of their last six games, earning the final wild-card spot. The Eagles only loss during this run was a 29-23 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys on December 9.
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Foles was especially effective in the final two weeks of the season, throwing for a combined total of 692 yards in victories over Houston and Washington. The Eagles backup started the first two games of the season before Wentz returned to appear in the next 11. However, Foles would be called upon to return for the final three games of the season, completing nearly 80% of his passes in those three games for 962 yards and six touchdowns.
Foles has proven to be a savior, as the ground game has been virtually nonexistent for Philadelphia. Josh Adams leads the team in rushing with 511 yards and three touchdowns. He has a 4.3 yards per carry average, but has not rushed for better than 50 yards in any of the last four games, including just 21 in the victory over Houston.
The Eagles are averaging 22.9 points per contest while allowing 21.8 per game. Not surprisingly, the ground game is averaging 98.1 yards per contest on average while the total offenses at 365.3 yards per game. The defense has held opponents to 96.9 yards rushing per game and 366.5 yards of total offense per contest.
Bears Enter Playoffs Red-Hot
There was no more fitting conclusion to the 2018 regular season for the Chicago Bears then there 24-10 domination of the Minnesota Vikings. Not only did this ensure that Chicago had the top spot in the NFC during wildcard weekend, it also knocked the Vikings from the playoff picture. In essence, Chicago helped Philadelphia, the team the Bears will play on Sunday.
Chicago was just 3-3 seven weeks into the season, after falling to the New England Patriots 38-31. However, five straight victories catapulted the team into first in the NFC North and they would roll down the stretch, dominating the Los Angeles Rams 15-6, before beating the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and Minnesota Vikings. Chicago allowed just 42 total points in the final four weeks of the season.
There were a lot of people questioning Chicago when they drafted Mitchell Trubisky in the first round of the 2017 draft. However, the second your quarterback has lived up to expectations, throwing for 3223 yards and 24 touchdowns in 14 games this season, helping Chicago to earn their first division title since 2010. Trubisky did not throw an interception in any of his last three games.
Jordan Howard proved to be an excellent complement to the Chicago quarterback. He rushed for 935 yards on 250 attempts, only gaining 3.7 yards per attempt. However, Howard did have nine touchdown carries.
Chicago enters the playoffs is one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, allowing 17.7 points per game. They are scoring on average 26.3 points per game, and are averaging 343.7 yards of offense per contest. The Bears allowed 299.7 yards per game and only 79.9 yards rushing per contest.
- 4-0 ATS in their last four games in January.
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
- 1-4 ATS in their last five wildcard games.
- 4-0 ATS in their last four games against NFC teams.
- 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall.
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven playoff games.
The Winner Prediction
The Philadelphia Eagles are a one-dimensional team. Not only because they simply can’t run the ball, but because Chicago doesn’t allow teams to run against them. That means that Nick Foles is going to have to win this game, something he proved he could do last year as the team went all the way to the Super Bowl behind their backup quarterback.
However, Chicago is a team of destiny this season. They have a defense that is a top two in the NFL this season and they have a quarterback who is coming into his own. The underdog is 9-4 ATS in the last 13 meetings between these two teams, but that is not going to be the case on this day. Look for the Chicago Bears to roll.
The Pick: Chicago Bears -6.0 (-110)
The total started out at 42.0 but has dropped to 41.0 heading into this contest. The offenses are averaging 49.2 points per game while the defenses are combining to allow 39.5 points per contest. This should be a great defensive battle, and Philadelphia is could have difficulty moving the ball. Look for Chicago to smother Foles, keeping him running for his life all game long. The Chicago Bears win, 24-10.
The Pick: under 41.0 (-110)