The red-hot Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) hit the road Sunday night for a prime-time NFC wild-card showdown against the NFC North champion Bears (12-4).
The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles enter the postseason as the sixth seed after winning their final three games and getting some help. They won five of their last six games with only an overtime loss to Dallas. They’re coming off a 24-0 shutout of Washington.
The Bears went from worst to first under first-year head coach Matt Nagy with a seven-win turnaround and are making their first postseason appearance since 2010. They tout the NFL’s top-ranked defense and enter the playoffs on a four-game win streak and victorious in nine of their last 10.
The Eagles are the biggest underdogs of all playoff teams going into Wild Card weekend, which is surprising given their status as defending champs and the relative playoff inexperience of the Bears.
The Bears have many playoff first-timers, including the head coach and second-year quarterback, which invites comparisons to the 2017 Rams, who made the playoffs last year as the third seed under first-year coach Sean McVay and second-year quarterback Jared Goff but lost to an experienced Falcons team in wild-card round.
The Eagles beat an 11-win Rams team and 10-win Texans team during their three-game win streak and blanked a division rival in the finale, revealing a higher level of play than typically seen from sixth seeds.
The Bears could very well win but beating the Eagles by a touchdown or more is a tall order. They’re not an explosive offense team and they’re facing a surging Eagles team that’s averaged 29 points per game since Nick Foles replaced an injured Carson Wentz.
A cold game in the Midway featuring the league’s top-ranked defensive team against an Eagles defense that’s allowed the league’s eighth-fewest yards over the past three games portends a low-scoring game.
The Bears tend to lull opponent into low-scoring games. None of their last four games has exceeded 41 points and two of their last four combined for less than 24 points.
Chicago is also dealing with some injuries on offense. Rookie wideout Anthony Miller re-dislocated his shoulder last Sunday against the Vikings but is expected to play. Slot receiver Taylor Gabriel (ribs) got banged up in that game and outside receiver Allen Robinson missed the game (ribs). Both should play.
For the season, only seven games involving the Bears have topped 41 total points and just three at home. It hasn’t happened at Soldier Field since Nov. 18, a 25-20 win over the Vikings.
It’s also a matchup pitting two of the NFL’s three-best ball control teams against each other. The Eagles ranked second in time of possession, followed by the Bears, so it’s reasonable to expect longer, methodical drives that chew up clock instead of showdown of explosive offenses.
Whether with Nick Foles or Carson Wentz, the Eagles have put points on the board this year against some top defenses, even in losses. Only twice has an opponent held them under 18 points.
Chicago, which didn’t allow more than 17 points in any of its four December games, will be the eighth top-10 defense the Eagles face this year, counting Dallas twice. In each of those prior seven games, the Eagles scored more than 18 points.
They scored 23 in Nashville against the Titans, who finished with the NFL’s third-best scoring defense, dropped 32 against Houston’s fifth-ranked scoring defense, scored more than 20 twice against Dallas’ sixth-ranked defense and reached 24 in London against a Jaguars defense that finished fourth.
They also put up 21 against the Vikings (ninth) and 20 against the Colts (10th) but they’ve come along way offensively since the start and middle of the season.
The Eagles had three of their four-highest scoring games in December and haven been held under 18 points just once since Oct. 28. Bet the Eagles to go over 17.5 points at -110 with Betfair.
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