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Game Preview: Eagles Vs. Bears


Not bad for a debut, huh?

The Eagles came out of the gates firing against the Cleveland Browns, starting off on the right foot with a 29-10 victory at Lincoln Financial Field. In his first game at the reins, Carson Wentz looked more like a 10-year veteran than a rookie. He led the Eagles on a touchdown drive on his very first NFL possession, hooking up with Jordan Matthews for a 19-yard touchdown to cap things off. Wentz showed exactly why the Eagles moved up to the second overall pick to select him.

Aside from Wentz, there were plenty of other things to make fans optimistic as well. The Eagles ran for 133 yards as a team, with Ryan Mathews running hard for 77 yards and a touchdown that ultimately put the final nail in the coffin. On the other side, the defense kept Cleveland at bay all game long, holding the Browns to just 288 total yards. The only touchdown for the Browns came after a questionable pass interference call on safety Malcolm Jenkins.

The defense will be tasked this week with shutting down a Bears offense that has plenty of potential, but couldn't quite get things rolling in Week 1 against Houston. Jay Cutler was uncomfortable in the pocket for most of the afternoon. The Texans sacked him five times, the second-highest total from Week 1, and held him to just 216 yards and one touchdown. Cutler certainly has weapons around him, with Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White on the outside. The Eagles are without Leodis McKelvin, meaning that Ron Brooks or perhaps rookie Jalen Mills could be tasked with defending one of those big bodies. The key for the Eagles, as it will be all season, is getting pressure from that front four, allowing the secondary and linebackers to drop back and do their jobs.

How will Wentz react to the national spotlight of Monday Night Football, especially on the road? Well, if Week 1 was any indication, there's no moment that's too big for him. Monday night could be his chance to break out in front of millions of fans across the world.

What will Wentz and the Eagles do for an encore? Here's the preview ...

- Alex Smith

Last Time They Met

Eagles 54, Bears 11
*December 22, 2013 - Lincoln Financial Field *

On Monday night, the Eagles will look to put together a performance as dominant as when they last went head-to-head with Chicago in 2013. Coming off a loss to the Vikings in Week 15, which snapped their five-game winning streak, the Birds outscored the Bears 24-3 in the first half of the Sunday evening game in Philadelphia. However, the team didn't stop there as the Eagles were eventually able to secure the 54-11 blowout victory.

Philadelphia's offense was electric that night, especially in the run game, as it picked up 289 yards on the ground. The Eagles boasted two 100-yard rushers in running backs LeSean McCoy (133 yards) and Bryce Brown (115 yards). They combined for three of the team's eventual seven touchdowns, one of which was off a 65-yard run from Brown at the end of the game. Quarterback Nick Foles also put together an impressive stat line, going 21-of-25 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and a 131.7 rating.

The Eagles were 5 for 5 in the red zone throughout the game, but the offensive players weren't the only ones putting points on the board. In the third quarter, defensive end Cedric Thornton tackled running back Matt Forte in the Bears' end zone for a safety. Then with eight minutes remaining in the game, Brandon Boykin picked off Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler and returned the ball 54 yards for a touchdown.

Philadelphia's defense allowed Cutler and Co. to accumulate 257 total yards, half of what the Eagles' offense was able to produce, but limited them to just two red zone trips. The Bears only capitalized on one, scoring a touchdown with a successful two-point conversion in the third quarter. Chicago's other three points came off a 50-yard field goal to end the first half.

The Birds have won six of the last 10 regular season games against the Bears and this week, the team will work toward continuing that winning trend.

- Julie Bacanskas


When The Eagles Have The Ball**

Carson Wentz's debut was spectacular, but let's see how the rest of his teammates on offense can help him out. Just like last week, the Eagles will square off against another veteran defensive coordinator running a 3-4 base alignment. It was Ray Horton for the Browns, on Monday night it's Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

The player to watch along the defensive line is former second-round pick Eddie Goldman at nose tackle going up against center Jason Kelce. Goldman can be disruptive against the run. The Eagles can take pressure off of Wentz by being more effective on the ground. Yes, the Eagles gained 133 yards as a team, but they only averaged 3.9 yards per carry. Ryan Mathews was limited to 3.5 yards per carry after averaging over 5 yards in 2015.

Off the edge, Leonard Floyd was very impressive in his debut for the Bears. The first-round pick out of Georgia will be moved around the formation so both Lane Johnson and Jason Peters will see him. Chicago will feature him in twists and stunts to try and free him up. Floyd is 6-6, 240 pounds. He has exceptional physical gifts, but needs to bulk up. If the offensive line can get into Floyd, that will negate his burst.

In the middle, the Bears have former Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan and former Colt Jerrell Freeman. Trevathan is a downhill missile who can blow up plays at the line of scrimmage. Freeman will look to take away Wentz's options in the middle of the field with his coverage skills. The Eagles will be without Zach Ertz at tight end. Trey Burton had a phenomenal preseason, but is limited in terms of regular season experience as an offensive weapon. He will need to come up big for the Eagles on Monday night.

Chicago has a veteran corner in Tracy Porter, who relies on his knowledge of offenses and sound technique to give receivers fits. Expect to see Dorial Green-Beckham lined up across from Porter. Will Green-Beckham be able to win with his physical tools over the more seasoned defensive back? With Kyle Fuller limited in practice this week for the Bears, Deiondre' Hall could see extended action against Nelson Agholor. A rookie fourth-round pick, Hall was a productive corner/safety at Northern Iowa. He doesn't have the best long speed and is lanky for a safety, which put evaluators in a bind trying to figure out his best position in the NFL. Overall, the secondary is young for the Bears. Second-year cornerbacks Jacoby Glenn and Bryce Callahan figure to have prominent roles on Monday night regardless of Fuller's status. Despite a promising performance last week in Houston, Wentz will have opportunities to strike down the field if the line gives him time.

- Chris McPherson


*When The Bears Have The Ball

Fresh off a 23-14 loss to the Texans, the Bears' offense will have some adjustments to make heading into this Monday Night Football matchup. In Week 1, Chicago struck early with a Jeremy Langford 1-yard touchdown run to put up the first points of the game, and then added an Eddie Royal 19-yard touchdown grab to go up by four points before halftime. But as the game progressed, the team was unable to put together another meaningful drive and was ultimately shut out in the second half. Chicago's 258 total yards of offense in its season opener ranked 29th among all NFL teams.

Losing running back Matt Forte in free agency, the Bears seem to steer from the run game in their opener. Last Sunday, the team only accumulated 73 yards on the ground. Langford picked up 53 of those, averaging 3.4 yards per carry, quarterback Jay Cutler tacked on 12 yards and Ka'Deem Carey added another 4 on his lone run.

In the passing game, Cutler went 16-of-29 for 216 yards, one touchdown, one interception for a 76.2 rating. His most productive target was Alshon Jeffery, the team's leading receiver in 2015. Jeffery picked up 105 yards on four receptions, the longest of which was 54 yards, and averaged 26.3 yards per catch.

Cutler was sacked five times by the Texans during the game and the Eagles' defense will aim for a similar result in Week 2. Against Cleveland, Fletcher Cox, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham were each able to get to the quarterback and the three sacks combined for a loss of 22 yards.

In terms of Philadelphia's Week 1 performance, the defense set the tone it wants going into the season. Among all NFL teams, the Eagles tied for fifth in yards allowed (288), fifth in passing yards allowed (168), fifth in sacks (three) and third in points allowed (10) after their first game. They also were able to limit Cleveland's red zone trips to only two and stopped eight of 10 third-down attempts, both of which are trends they'll work to continue.

The Eagles also enter this Monday night matchup relatively healthy, with only one defensive injury lingering. Starting cornerback Leodis McKelvin is out with a hamstring injury he suffered against the Bears. Ron Brooks will start on the outside, but move inside in subpackages. When Brooks is inside, rookie Jalen Mills will play on the outside. The seventh-round pick had two tackles in his limited action against Cleveland. One of the tackles was on quarterback Robert Griffin III. Whether it's the veteran or the rookie playing alongside Nolan Carroll this week, the Eagles' defense will be prepared to face Cutler and this Chicago offense.

- Julie Bacanskas


Key Matchups**

DE Fletcher Cox vs. G Kyle Long

The Bears moved Kyle Long back inside to guard this season after spending 2015 at right tackle. Long, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, earned a long-term contract extension this offseason. He is in the lineup despite a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was also rewarded with a new contract this offseason and showcased how disruptive he can be with four tackles and a sack in the win over Cleveland. The Bears' offensive line is in flux with a rookie at center in Cody Whitehair and a new left guard in former Packer Josh Sitton. Chicago allowed five sacks to Houston last week. The Eagles had three against the Browns and are hungry for more.

CB Jalen Mills vs. WR Alshon Jeffery

With Leodis McKelvin out, the Eagles will start Ron Brooks on the outside in base, but move seventh-round pick Jalen Mills there in subpackages as Brooks goes inside. Big test in prime time for the rookie. Mills had two tackles in 12 snaps in his NFL debut. Jeffery, a Pro Bowl selection in 2013, had four catches on six targets for 105 yards in the opener. Jeffery is 6-3, weighs 218 pounds and is great at the catch point. Slot receiver Eddie Royal was on the field nearly two-thirds of the time last week against Houston. Don't be surprised to see that number rise to force the Eagles into their subpackages on defense.

QB Carson Wentz vs. Bears Fans

Carson Wentz enjoyed a sterling debut in front of the home crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. On Monday night, Wentz takes his act to the road in front of a rowdy contingent of Bears faithful at Soldier Field. Wentz displayed tremendous command at the line of scrimmage checking in and out of plays. If it's loud, will he be able to have the same success communicating with his teammates. He also drove the Eagles the length of the field on the opening drive for a touchdown as the team never trailed. What happens if the tables are turned and the Bears get out to an early lead? How will the rookie respond?

- Chris McPherson


Get to know the players to watch from the Chicago Bears ahead of Monday night's game.

*Trends To Watch

18 - The Eagles have played 29 Monday Night Football games since the start of the 2001 season. They've won 18 of those games during that stretch, the most of any team in the NFL.

50 - Jordan Matthews has recorded at least 50 yards and a touchdown in each of his last four games, dating back to last season. This is the longest streak by an Eagle since 2004 (Terrell Owens).

172 - Carson Wentz was 9-of-11 for 172 yards and two touchdowns on throws 10 yards or longer.

0 - The Eagles held the Cleveland Browns without a first down in the first quarter of the season opener. The Browns' first three drives of the game all resulted in three-and-outs.

- Alex Smith

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