The Eagles are 9-1 and things couldn’t be going better. At 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon the Birds host the Bears, a broadast on FOX in what will be the last “regular” home game of the year (with Christmas Day and New Years Eve games at the Linc rounding out the South Philly schedule).
Last season, the Eagles bested the Bears handily in Illinois 29-14, led by two rushing touchdowns from former running back Ryan Mathews.
Here are three things to be mindful of as kickoff in Week 12’s rematch approaches.
Calm before the storm
It’s not exactly a trap game, as the Eagles aren’t a team known to look past a teammate under the Doug Pederson regime — but Sunday’s matinee against the Bears, 3-7 and in the basement of the NFC North, offers Philly it’s last easy home game of the year. And their most winnable game remaining this season before they head West in Weeks 13 and 14 to play the Seahawks and Rams, a pair of cover contenders.
For wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, it’s his first game ever against his former team the Bears.
“It’s just a regular game,” Jeffery said minimizing the match up. “We come out to win and we have to have fun with it.”
Speaking of fun, winning eight games in a row is about as good as it can get in the National Football League. The Eagles are the unchallenged top team in football right now and could clinch the NFC East with a win Sunday and losses by the Cowboys and Redskins. Regardless, two more wins in six games clinches their division crown. With almost no weaknesses and the nationwide media singing the Eagles’ praises, it’s a challenge to be confident, but not overconfident as the cold winter games approach.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Pederson said. “The guys enjoy coming to work every single day that they’re here, and part of my messaging to the team is: if you can’t have fun doing what you’re doing, you should probably find something else to do. Even sometimes through the ups and downs of the season, you can — you still find ways to keep it fresh and creative and have fun doing it, and the guys are having fun playing together, and that’s what you’re seeing. It’s definitely a team effort right now.”
Prior to last Sunday’s win over Dallas, the Eagles hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rushing performance in some time. It wasn’t a factor against tthe Cowboys of course, but keeping Chicago’s fifth best rushing attack from being a problem will be a top priority in Week 11. Jordan Howard (841 yards, 5 TD) and Tarik Cohen (532 combined rushing and receiving yards) will give a test to Nigel Bradham and the Eagles linebackers in the continued absence of Jordan Hicks.
“Nigel Bradham has been the guy kind of making the calls in nickel situations and sub situations,” Pederson said. “It’s just the next guy has to step up. Nigel has done a great job in that regard, but Joe [Walker] has filled in nice, as well.”