CHICAGO – This isn’t about brother vs. brother, although you’re going to hear plenty about it during the Eagles-Bears game (Sunday, 4:40 p.m., NBC) any time Chris Long is on the field against this brother, Kyle. For the third time, older brother Chris plays against Kyle and it just so happens that the focus on this game, and the way this game plays out, could very well depend upon the Eagles’ defensive line and its ability to win in the trenches.
“I’m more looking forward to playing a football game,” Long said upon arriving at the team hotel in Chicago.
And that’s it. Nothing else. Long hasn’t talked about playing against his brother all week and he’s not really interested in discussing it further. It is, as they say, what it is: Just a subplot in a very complex matchup against the 12-4 Bears.
“We had great practices all week,” Long said. “We’re ready to roll. We know that we have to win the matchups up front and get to their quarterback (Mitchell Trubisky) and hit him. That makes anybody uncomfortable.”
Saturday was a smooth day for the Eagles, who conducted their team walkthrough at the NovaCare Complex and then flew to Chicago. Dozens of Eagles fans greeted the team at the hotel, trying to establish some Midnight Green presence in this sports hotbed. Eagles fans attending the game at Soldier Field will be appreciated. The Eagles expect a wave of hometown love for the Bears, a worst-to-first team in the NFC North, a team that has been led all season by its defense, a team that intends to play deep into the postseason.
Long and the defensive line will be challenged by a Bears offense that features a good running back in Jordan Howard, an explosive, do-it-all weapon in Tarik Cohen, who lines up everywhere in the formation, tight end Trey Burton, and good receivers. Trubisky has mobility, so the Eagles must collapse the pocket and at the same time contain his running options.
For the other side of the ball, the offensive line has been asked all week about Chicago’s outstanding front seven. Left tackle Jason Peters talked about that group Saturday at the team hotel.
“They’re a good group. A lot of good players up front and they play hard,” Peters said. “We know what to expect. It’s just a matter of going out and executing. We have to win our battles.”
Peters missed the Super Bowl LII run after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 7. This season has largely been a good one for Peters, although he’s been in and out of several games. Peters played in 15 games and 79 percent of the offensive snaps. He says his quadriceps, one that limited his practice week, is “good.” Peters is ready to play in the postseason for the first time since the 2013 season.
“It’s been a while,” Peters said. “This is what you play for, what you work so hard in the offseason. It’s exciting. We know how good Chicago is, so we have to be at our best. I think we’re ready to go out and play our best football.”
That’s what it will take to defeat a Bears team that went 7-1 at Soldier Field this season. Chicago is solid all the way through its lineup and there are enough playoff-experienced players to guide the team in the postseason. As the Eagles have said all week, once the hype clears and the ball is kicked off, Sunday is all about football and execution.
The play in the trenches will make all the difference in the world.
“That’s where it all starts in this game,” Peters said. “This isn’t any different. Two good teams getting after it.”
Check out what the Eagles were wearing for their trip to Chicago for the Wild Card Round.