With a much-needed bye week coming up, the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) are looking to start November on a winning note when they take on the Chicago Bears (3-4) on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, FOX) at Lincoln Financial Field.
This will be the third time in three seasons that these two squads have played each other. Last year, the underdog Eagles defeated the Bears, 15-14, in the NFC Wild Card game.
Heading into this weekend’s matchup, the Eagles are coming off an impressive 31-13 road win last Sunday over the Buffalo Bills.
In that game, Philadelphia did a great job of committing to the running game, which racked up a season-high 218 yards. Former Bears running back Jordan Howard had 96 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.
Rookie Miles Sanders added 74 yards on the ground, including an impressive 65-yard touchdown run to begin the third quarter. He also had three receptions for 44 yards.
Along with the running game, Philadelphia’s defense did an outstanding job against Josh Allen and Buffalo’s offense.
The Eagles’ defense held the Bills to only 98 rushing yards and did not allow any of their wide receivers to reach the 100-yard receiving mark (J. Brown: 5 recs, 54 yards).
In regards to Chicago, they are coming off a tough one-point loss (17-16) to the Los Angeles Chargers at home. Kicker Eddie Pineiro missed a game-winning field goal in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.
Unlike last season, where the kicking game was a major issue for the Bears, the ongoing issue in 2019 has been the poor play from third-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
In six games, the former UNC signal-caller is only completing 64.6-percent of his passes for 1,092 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions.
At this point last season, Trubisky looked like a franchise quarterback, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,949 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions.
It obviously has Bears fans wondering if the team needs to look elsewhere next season.
Therefore, who will come out on top in a rematch of last year’s NFC playoff game? To answer that question and more, here are a couple of things to watch for in this highly contested Week 9 matchup:
Feeding Jordan Howard
This past offseason, the Bears traded Jordan Howard to the Eagles in an exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Chicago’s decision to get rid of Howard did not come as a surprise to many as the Bears went all-in on Tarik Cohen.
That being said, it was still strange to see a team give up on a running back, who had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons to begin his career.
Nevertheless, the Eagles are happy with what Howard has done for their offense this season. In eight games, the 24-year-old running back has 443 rushing yards on 100 carries and six total touchdowns (five rushing TDs).
If you compare Howard’s stats to the Bears’ rushing stats, you will see that no one has reached the 400-yard mark plateau. Their leading rusher is rookie David Montgomery, who only has 366 yards on 98 carries and three touchdowns.
Just based on those stats alone, one could infer that the Eagles won the trade, while the Bears made a mistake. Howard will get to prove Chicago wrong as he will be going up against a Bears’ defense, which has only allowed 86 yards per game this season.
If the Eagles want to get the win on Sunday, they must lean on Howard, who will have a little something extra to play.
The return of DeSean Jackson
Over the last several weeks, we’ve seen how anemic the Eagles’ offense has been without the big play ability of DeSean Jackson.
Jackson, who suffered an abdominal injury against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2, practiced on Wednesday for the first time in a month. The 32-year-old wide receiver was a limited participant, but head coach Doug Pederson is optimistic about him playing on Sunday.
If Jackson does indeed play on Sunday, he will not be 100-percent. However, just having his mere presence on the field should open up things for quarterback Carson Wentz and the rest of the Eagles’ offense.
In his only game this season, Jackson torched the Washington Redskins’ secondary in Week 1 to the tune of eight receptions (10 targets) for 154 yards and two touchdowns.