Eagles vs. Bears: Six Matchups to Keep Your Eyes On

Sep 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Rodney McLeod (23) reacts to a stop against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 29-10. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Rodney McLeod (23) reacts to a stop against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 29-10. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

What to watch for on Monday night when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Chicago Bears.

Just a few short weeks ago, most of the Philadelphia Eagles fanbase would have told you they don’t have any idea of what to expect for the upcoming season. The only thing for certain they would have told you is that this team has more question marks than any Eagles roster they could recall.

Another season of Sam Bradford and his inevitable mediocrity was looming, and excitement was surely hard to come by. Assurances were given from Eagles management and coaching that Carson Wentz was the 3rd QB on the depth chart, despite the obvious outcry from the fan base that wanted Wentz on the field as soon as possible.

Here we sit, September 16th, and things are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Carson Wentz and the Eagles are coming off a 29-10 drubbing of the lowly Browns, and in reality the scoreline flatters the Browns there.

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The excitement around the team and the city is as high as it’s been in recent memory and the Eagles and their fans are understandably ready to grab another win against another lowly team, the Chicago Bears. The Bears are coming off a tough opening road loss in Houston, and are surely looking to give problems to the Eagles. With the exception of the 54-11 Eagles drubbing in December 2013, the Bears have beaten the Eagles four of their last five matchups.

1) Ryan Mathews & Kenjon Barner vs. Bears Front 7

This matchup will surely be an interesting one as Mathews and Barner, coming off a combined 121 yards against the Browns, look to continue their early success at the expense of a Chicago defense that allowed 129 rushing yards to the Texans in Week One.

However, the Bears defense, which was very average last season (ranked 16th in total defense), looks very improved on paper. The front seven has added Akiem Hicks (played 13 games for NE last year) at DE, Jerrell Freeman at ILB (66 tackles in 13 starts for IND last year), and of course Danny Trevathan, the recently crowned world champion inside linebacker.

It will be intriguing to see if Doug Pedersen believes his two running backs have a favorable matchup this Monday against a Bears front seven with many new faces.

2) Eagles Pass Rush vs. Bears Offensive Line

The Eagles pass rush is obviously one of the strengths of the team, even if they weren’t necessarily fantastic last week against Cleveland. Barwin, Graham, and Cox all still registered sacks even though the pass rush was nonexistent most of the first half.

They are up against a Bears offensive line that is among the more underwhelming in the league. Bobby Massie was supposed to be a signing that anchored the line, but J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney took turns embarrassing him last weekend. Along with starting a rookie at Center with Kyle Whitehair, and a 2014 7th rounder in Charles Leno, Connor Barwin, and Brandon Graham should be licking their chops.

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Sep 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz before game against the Cleveland Browns at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Look for Jim Schwartz and DL coach Chris Wilson to come at Jay Cutler with a variety of schemes to put pressure on a young, messy offensive line.

3) Jordan Matthews vs. Tracy Porter

After a 114 yard performance that included a 19 yard touchdown catch, Jordan Matthews will look to build a hot streak going into the season. Matthews will likely remain Wentz’s top target throughout the season, so it’s at the utmost importance the two build chemistry right away.

Wentz will look to target the matchup with Matthews and Tracy Porter. Porter had an early interception last week against Brock Osweiler, but was repeatedly thrown at afterwards and DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller had lots of success when Porter was covering them.

This will certainly be a matchup that Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich feels the Eagles can exploit for success.

4) Alshon Jeffery vs. Nolan Carroll III

This matchup was never going to necessarily be a favorable one for the Eagles, but now with the news that Leodis McKelvin is “week to week” with a strained hamstring means that he may miss out on this contest. Assuming McKelvin doesn’t play, Nolan Carroll will be responsible for Alshon Jeffery.

Carroll had an extremely disappointing game last week, evidence being former college QB Terrelle Pryor besting him for a 44 yard completion, a play where Pryor flat out just bullied Carroll off the ball. At 6’3″ 215lbs, Alshon Jeffery will likely be able to do whatever he wants against Carroll physically.

A key for the Eagles will be to make sure that Carroll has safety help when dealing with Jeffery frequently, being that Jeffery is one of the most dangerous receivers in the league when he gets in a rhythm.

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5) Eagles Offense vs. Staying on the Field on 3rd Down

This is one of the most crucial aspects to Monday’s game. For as good as Carson Wentz and the offense as a whole was on Sunday, they were just 5-15 on 3rd down. Chicago wasn’t so hot themselves defensively getting off the field on 3rd down, only stopping the Texans from converting 40% of the time (Texans were 12-20 on 3rd down).

If the Eagles offense can convert on 3rd down and stay on the field, they will wear down a Bears defense that is clearly not one of the overall better units in the league. Converting frequently on 3rd down is a great way to increase a young QB’s confidence, and that’s exactly what Carson Wentz and the Eagles will want to do to gain an edge in this contest.

Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles /

6) Carson Wentz vs. First Monday Night Jitters

There is no quarterback in the world that isn’t going to be at least a little nervous for his first Monday Night Football game. The first 2-3 drives of the game will be crucial for Wentz. If he can get early confidence going, then he will be able to weather whatever early nerves he has.

This is a game that will have heavy bearing on the way the nation sees the young quarterback. With a strong performance and an Eagles win, people not only in Philadelphia but the entire country will be quick to jump on the “Wentz Wagon”.

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PREDICTION:  It’s hard to see this game not coming down to the last couple minutes of the game. Expect the Eagles to show a healthy mix of run and pass, and another strong performance from Wentz will put them in a really good spot to win this game. The key will be shutting down Alshon Jeffery and defensively exploiting a weak Bears offensive line.

Eagles 24, Bears 21