Jason Kelce has spent all week watching the Chicago Bears' defense, every snap of every game, and he's impressed. No surprise. The Bears are offense-wreckers, through and through. So Kelce heads into Sunday's NFC Wild Card playoff game in Chicago (4:40 p.m., NBC) with a healthy respect for what Chicago has shown him throughout the season.
That doesn't mean he's backing down.
"I know that if we go out there and we execute what we're being coached to do, if we go out and play the way we've played the last few weeks, we'll put ourselves in position to win the game," Kelce said. "That's what it comes down to … I really think this is about us – how we prepare, how we execute, and that's what is going to help us be successful on Sunday."
Much of Kelce's focus has been on the interior of the Bears defense – he is the center, after all – but Kelce and the Eagles are acutely aware of the damage edge rusher Khalil Mack can do to an offensive structure. Mack and tackle Akiem Hicks are a devastating duo, a pair of Pro Bowl players who crush offenses.
The Eagles must find a way to forge a running attack and keep quarterback Nick Foles clean when he drops back to throw the football.
"It's huge. It's huge every week, it's just more important this week because they have tremendous guys in the trenches," Kelce said when asked about the importance of winning at the line of scrimmage. "They have some game-changing talents, some game-wrecking individuals, and it's on us to make sure that we're allowing them to not wreck the game, pretty much. Give the quarterback, give the receivers, give the running back a chance to be successful. If we can do that, we'll stand a chance offensively to put some points on the board."
The offensive line has improved as the season has gone along and the offensive production bears that out. The Eagles are averaging 28.9 points per game in their three consecutive victories, and while they're only 18th in the NFL with 22.9 points per game throughout the regular season, they've played their best football to reach the postseason.
Kelce thinks the execution level much go up another notch on Sunday against this Chicago defense.
"It's about execution and what we're doing," he said. "Early in the season, we had so many penalties and mistakes and it set us back. You've seen those errors drop and along with that, we've moved the ball better, we've stayed on the field, and we've scored more points.
"Sunday is going to be a different kind of test against a defense like this. They are just a complete defense. They play well together. We really have to have our game together to do what we want to do."