The (1-0) Philadelphia Eagles are headed on the road to take on the (0-1) Chicago Bears at the iconic Soldier Field (8.30pm ET Monday on ESPN).
The Bears opened their season on the road, taking on the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. While Chicago opened up the scoring, leading 14-10 at the half and 14-13 entering the fourth quarter, this was all the points the road team would put up. An inconsistent defense and an offensive line that couldn’t keep QB Jay Cutler off the ground, allowing five sacks and another 13 knockdowns, doomed the Bears to a 23-14 loss. This was the third time in a row Chicago has opened their season with a loss.
Things couldn’t have gone more differently for the Eagles however. They used both a retooled defense under new coordinator Jim Schwartz and an offense run by rookie QB Carson Wentz (pictured) to great efficiency. There weren’t many question marks in Philadelphia’s complete 29-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns as the team showed a solid game on three sides of the ball.
Can Carson Wentz Have a Repeat Performance?
Entering into this game, the biggest question on everybody’s mind is if Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz can do it again, by repeating his stellar performance from week one when Philadelphia easily handled the Browns. Wentz, the biggest part of the reason why the Eagles got the week one win, looked like a veteran. He made all of his throws with precision and led the Philadelphia offense down the field with poise and efficiency. He certainly looked the part of an NFL quarterback.
Wentz is only one of three NFL rookie QBs since 1960 to have at least 275 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the season opener since 2010. The man he faced on Sunday, Robert Griffin III, did it in that year and Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills did it in 1986. Wentz’s 278 yards through the air was also the fourth most by any Eagles rookie. His 101 passer rating was the highest mark since John Reaves scored a 104.4 in 1972.
These stats stand out for sure, but as the critics have pointed out Wentz did not play against the stiffest competition. The defense he shredded was that of the Browns and on top of that, it was the Browns playing much of the game without their top corner Joe Haden. His absence was certainly felt in the secondary, particularly as Wentz was able to target Jordan Matthews a whopping 14 times, with seven receptions totaling over 100 yards.
Against the Bears, Wentz and the Eagles offense will be going against a team which allowed Brock Osweiler over 230 yards through the air and another almost 130 on the ground to the running game. Lamar Miller paced the Texans with 106 of these yards on 26 carries. It wasn’t the best showing for a defense that stands 14th overall, 22nd in the rush and 10th in the pass.
A repeat performance from Wentz would go a long way toward the Eagles knowing if they do in fact have their next franchise QB. However Wentz won’t be the only one needed to perform well if the Birds hope to find themselves with a 2-0 start in what looks a very winnable NFC East. They’ll need the aid of their own running game which combined for over 120 yards. They will need the offensive line to continue to keep Wentz upright as well as they did in game one.
Can Alshon Jeffrey Take Advantage of the Defensive Matchup?
One of the other things the Eagles did well, something that has been somewhat overlooked with the talk being about Wentz’s dominant start, was on defense. A retooled look and scheme paid off on Sunday as the Eagles kept the Browns out of rhythm and managed to get to Griffin pretty easily. The same might be possible on Monday night against Cutler because as I mentioned earlier in this preview, his offensive line is among one of the worst in the league.
It’s a matchup that the Eagles front seven will be looking to exploit but they won’t be the only ones hoping to take advantage of a favorable matchup. Because if the Eagles defense can’t get to Cutler and cause trouble in the backfield, then it is the Bears QB who could benefit from the time to throw the ball and make its way downfield to Alshon Jeffrey.
Jeffrey, the top receiver on the team and one of the best in the game, had a solid start on Sunday against the Texans in the team’s opener. He had just four receptions but managed 105 yards as he led the offense. Against the Eagles the matchup is there to exploit, especially considering Leodis McKelvin, the guy Philadelphia brought in during the offseason to shore up their secondary, was injured and is likely to miss the game.
Looking for his fourth straight game with at least 100 yards or a touchdown, Jeffrey just needs time for Cutler to find him streaking down the field. Stopping him is easier said than done and it will be a huge test for seventh-round pick Jalen Mills, who could be covering him in McKelvin’s absence.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears Betting Picks Predictions
Despite Chicago’s week one loss, these two teams are actually pretty evenly matched. The Eagles did get off to a strong start and showed more on defense than many expected, but the Bears have an equally talented roster. At home at Soldier Field, which is one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play, they are favored by the American-serving sportsbooks to get their first win.
The bookies’ odds make Chicago three-point favorites at home and that’s a pretty safe betting picks’ prediction that some pundits will make. However, even with the Eagles losing one of their weapons due to TE Zach Ertz’s injury last week, Philadelphia still has a strong dual threat game thanks to Wentz and Matthews and Ryan Mathews. There is no reason to think Wentz won’t be able to put up big numbers again, even if he isn’t against the Browns. He’s the real deal and Monday under the lights will be his chance to prove it.
This preview’s betting predictions and picks are:
- Expect the Eagles to take advantage of the spread as they fly on the road to victory. Bet on Philadelphia +3pts @ +105 with 5Dimes Sportsbook or BetOnline. It is -105 for the same spread with Bovada.
- As for our prediction of the total points scored in this Monday night NFL game, our betting pick is to go with the under 42.5pts @ -110 odds with Bovada Sportsbook. It is -115 with BetOnline, while 5Dimes are -110 for under 42pts. Soldier Field historically has led to low-scoring contests.