The Bears will play their fourth straight game under the light when they head to Philadelphia to take on Michael Vick and the rest of the Dream Team Eagles on Monday Night. It’s a crucial conference matchup for two teams on the outside looking in for that last Wild Card spot right now. The Eagles have a shot to catch the Giants for the NFC East crown, but it’s not as likely for the Bears to catch to undefeated Packers to repeat as NFC North champs, so this game might even be slightly more important to the Beloved.
To help us get prepped for this huge prime time game, we hooked up with Mike Burke from Birds Fan to do our 5 Questions. Let’s get to the Q&A.
1. The Eagles made a big splash in free agency to earn the “Dream Team” nickname, but the start of the season was more of a nightmare. Why the slow start? Have the Eagles found their stride?
I think it’s hard to pinpoint just one reason, so I’ll look at a few factors. The first one has to be the shortened offseason. They brought in a lot of new faces in terms of both players and coaches. This limited time didn’t give them a whole lot of time to gel as a unit. This was a concern heading into the season, and everyone thought the Eagles would be much better in November than in September. However, no one thought it would be this slow of a start.
Sticking to the players and coaches, both have been to blame when it comes to the actual playing of the games. On the coaches end, I think it has taken them some time to realize how to best utilize the talent they have. They failed to make adjustments early on, but it seems they’ve made a lot of corrections that are now paying off.
For the players, although they weren’t always lined up in the best area to make plays, there was a ton of poor execution on their behalf as well. Poor turnovers hurt a lot, and players really just failed to make routine plays.
2. The Bears have had pretty good luck keeping Michael Vick bottled up throughout his career. Do you think they’ll be able to keep him under wraps on Monday night?
Michael Vick has really progressed since joining the Eagles. Last week was his best performance of the season. He made some plays running the ball, which is expected of him, but he was very good throwing the ball.
The Cowboys took away the big play for the Eagles and wouldn’t allow them to hit the homerun they like to go for. However, Vick took what they were giving them and was able to pick apart the middle. He also made some fantastic pre-snap reads, two of which resulted in touchdowns.
Vick has often been criticized for being more of an athlete that plays the quarterback position rather than a true quarterback. He’s developed a lot as a quarterback under Andy Reid and it’s really starting to show.
Of course, the Bears have a great track record against Vick, but they haven’t seen Vick playing at this level. The offense also has so many weapons that Vick doesn’t have to play incredibly well. He just has to be smart with the ball and distribute it to all his weapons.
3. Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy enter Monday night’s contest as two of the hottest running backs in the NFL. How would you compare their games? Which one would you rather have?
I think they’re actually quite similar. Throughout this season, both have proven that they can be huge contributors running the football but they also have the ability to catch balls out of the backfield and make plays.
I think that there’s a bit more pressure on Forte because the Bears offense doesn’t have as many weapons as the Eagles offense does, but Forte has clearly stepped up and shown he can put the offense on his back.
I think any offense would love to have either of them. I don’t really think you can say one has clearly been better than the other this season. However, if I had to pick, I’d take McCoy. He’s 23 while Forte is 26, so he has more shelf life.
4. The Eagles defense seems to be getting their act together with a couple of strong performances in their last couple of games. What do they have in store for Jay Cutler and the Bears offense?
They’re going to have a lot of focus on slowing down Matt Forte. Defensively, their biggest struggle has been against the run, and anytime a team comes in with a running back like Forte, you have to be a bit worried.
I expect them to crowd the box and focus on the run first. The Bears wide receivers aren’t overly threatening, especially with the amount of talent the Eagles have at the corner position. They should be able to trust their corners to hold their own without much help over the top.
Although we don’t see it from the Eagles, I think we may see them try to get extra pressure on Cutler through the blitz. Again, I think they’ll put a lot of trust in their secondary to cover the Bears receivers, and throw some blitz packages in to try and force a turnover or two.
The Eagles haven’t had a sack from anyone not on their defensive line yet this season. I think we could see this change on Monday night.
5. What’s your prediction for the game on Monday? Please include a score.
The Eagles have a lot of confidence right now. The way they played against the Cowboys, it looks like they can beat just about any team that gets in their way. However, their still 3-4 so I’m not completely sold yet.
I do think this is a good matchup for the Eagles, and you have to consider the fact that they’ll be playing at home in prime time. They had this situation last week and stepped up and I expect them to do it again. I like the Eagles 27-17.
Be sure to check out my answers to Mike’s questions here.