When Chip Kelly was asked throughout the day whether he would sit his starters, he likely assumed people meant right from the beginning of the game. Well, it turned out that the Eagles were winning by so much that the backups did indeed come in at the end. The Eagles completely destroyed the Bears on Sunday Night Football, defeating them 54-11. It was the second most points the Bears had given up in franchise history, and it was clearly a pathetic performance by them. If there was any question about the Eagles going into last night’s game, it is all thrown out the window now. They are dangerous.
Looking at this matchup on paper, it should’ve been a shootout. Well, apparently only the Eagles got the memo on that one. The Bears 32nd ranked run defense was no match for the Eagles top run offense in the league. It was clear from the beginning that LeSean McCoy and co. would be running all over the Bears defense, and they did just that. McCoy had 133 yards and 2 TDs, averaging an astounding 7.4 YPC. Bryce Brown even picked up 115 yards of his own after scoring on a 65 yard scamper in the 4th quarter after all the backups had come in. Adding 3rd string RB Chris Polk’s TD run as well, the Eagles rushed for 289 yards and 4 TDs. That’s scary.
But the Eagles attack wasn’t all on the ground. Nick Foles had the most efficient passing outing in Eagles history, going 21/25 for 230 yards, 2 TDs, and of course, 0 INTs. His 131.7 passer rating in the game kept him in first place in that statistic in the league, proving just how dangerous of a passer he is. In fact, the Eagles offense was so amazing last night that they exactly doubled the Bears in both yards (514-257) and yards per play (8.2-4.1).
Despite this historically efficient outing by Foles, no one receiver dominated the targets and yards. Brent Celek led with 58 yards and a TD, but Riley Cooper had 53 yards and a TD as well, and McCoy and DeSean Jackson each had 29. Jackson’s night was very quiet, picking up just 41 total yards, but he was not needed to explode thanks to the invisible Bears D. It was a full team effort in this blasting of Chicago, and the Eagles never took the pedal off the gas and allowed the Bears back into the game.
One key part of their victory was that they scored a TD in all five trips to the red zone, an area they’ve been silently improving on this year. They also minimized the turnovers and penalties, fumbling once and committing only two penalties for 15 yards. The Eagles even won in time of possession, something they were consistently sitting in last place for in the league. They were winning by as much as 7+ minutes at halftime, but it evened out after the Bears started trying a little harder.
The defense also played excellently, stopping Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery from pretty much doing anything. Forte had just 54 total yards, Jeffery had 76, and Marshall had 36. Keeping all three of them under 100 yards seemed like an impossible task going in, especially after surrendering 48 points on defense last week, but they got it done. Bradley Fletcher definitely made up for his poor performance last week and played excellently, getting 9 solo tackles and a forced fumble that was eventually recovered by other starting CB, Cary Williams. Nickel CB Brandon Boykin also had his 5th INT of the year, returning it for a TD in the 4th quarter. He is now tied for 4th in the league in INTs, much to the surprise of both me and anyone who heard that stat. I’d say that’s a pretty awesome response to my criticism of the cornerbacks last week.
Trent Cole was a sack machine, recording a sack on all 3 of his tackles for the night. Mychal Kendricks added in 2 sacks of his own, bringing him to 4 on the year. He also was second on the team in tackles with 5. And the guy who barely plays at all but still dominates, aka Vinny Curry, recorded 4 tackles of his own. I still have no idea how he does it…it’s too bad he doesn’t fit in as either a 3-4 DE or OLB because he’s extremely talented.
So it was obvious that many players on the Eagles did well, but there are five guys who never get enough credit who I think were the MVPs of the game: the offensive lineman. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, and Lane Johnson are all playing great this year, and multiple of these guys could end up in the Pro Bowl. The fact that they’ve stayed together and healthy all year is part of why the Eagles offense has been so great, and staying healthy through the rest of the season is imperative. These guys were making holes the size of a Mack truck last night. Bravo to these five guys on their blocking abilities. And oh, good job to backup TE James Casey as well; he may not play much, but he’s an excellent blocker when he’s out there.
So, going into Week 17, the Eagles are 9-6 and the Cowboys are 8-7. The Eagles are sitting at 3rd seed right now and would clinch the NFC East and the 3rd seed if they won next week in Dallas. If they lose though, they’re going home, which means they can’t get overconfident. If the Eagles win, they could play a number of teams depending on what happens in the rest of the conference. There’s still a chance that Seattle doesn’t win the division and becomes the 5th seed (meaning the NFC is saved), but that’s unlikely. Since 7 teams are battling for 5 spots in the playoffs, it’s very unknown who the Eagles would even face. Due to a large number of scenarios, the Eagles could end up facing the Cardinals, Saints, 49ers, or Panthers. But again, this is only if the Eagles win next week; beating Dallas is first on their to-do list.