Sunday night is a “must win” game and not just because Donovan said so. The Eagles cannot afford to lose this game and fall to the .500 mark. Chicago has been struggling lately, but so have the Birds. However, this is a team that they should be able to beat. It’s a team they need to beat. A win on Sunday night could get the Eagles back in to the flow of winning, something they need to do if they want to make a serious playoff run. We can’t afford to lose many more games and this is a team they really can’t afford to lose to.
Here’s some quick team stats and league rankings:
Points per game: 20.7 (20th)
Yards per game: 334.3 (18th)
Pass yards per game: 249.1 (10th)
Rush yards per game: 85.2 (30th)
Points per game: 22.3 (19th)
Yards per game: 313.8 (10th)
Pass yards per game: 195.3 (8th)
Rush yards per game: 118.4 (21st)
Jay Cutler – We can only hope he duplicates the performance he had last week against the 49ers where he threw for five interceptions. He has throw for 17 total interceptions this year, leading the league, and has a quarterback rating of 76. Cutler is still a fairly young quarterback but it doesn’t seem like he’s way to stardom anytime soon. This is beneficial for the Eagles as they have a banged up secondary. I’m sure the Birds will be looking to duplicate the 49ers game plan and have similar luck in the turnover category.
Matt Forte – This is a guy that broke out of no where last year and looked like he could be a real super star in this league. However, his numbers are way down this year and he’s struggling to find a rhythm. The Eagles are yet to let a running back go over 100 yards on them this year and I wouldn’t expect them to on Sunday. They made LT look like the old LT last week and I’m sure they heard about it at practice this week. This may have something to do with the new linebacker corps but I look for the line to force everything inside so easy plays can be made.
Wide Receivers – I think part of the reason Cutler may be struggling so much has to do with the targets he’s dealing with. They have Devin Hester who is a big play guy but isn’t a true wide receiver. There other two main targets, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox, are still very young and made develop into something but aren’t the Brandon Marshall type target Cutler had in Denver. If the Eagles can prevent the long ball, I think they can shut down the receivers quite well.
Greg Olsen – Here we go again. Another talented tight end for the Eagles to deal with. Got him on your fantasy team? Start him. The Eagles have yet to prove they can cover a tight end so until then, I’m going to say this is a mismatch every week.
Defensive Line – I think a lot of the Bears line starts up front with Tommie Harris. He’s a big boy in the middle who gets to see his fair share of double teams. We all know the Eagles are going to throw the ball a lot so Donovan is going to have to stay well protected. He can do some damage when he has time and the line has been inconsistent lately. The Birds will need to control the offensive line of scrimmage if they want to come out and have success early.
Linebackers – This squad has not been the same since the loss of Brian Urlacher. Not only is he a bull in the middle, but he is their defensive leader. I’m hoping (keyword hoping) to see the Eagles try and break through the line, control the linebackers, and pick up some big chunks of yards on the ground. With Brian Westbrook ruled out of the picture, who knows if we’ll see this. Even if BWest was in the picture, we still probably wouldn’t see it. However, I would love to be pleasantly surprised.
Secondary – Their secondary ranks in the top 10 in terms of yard allowed per game. They have some veterans back there in Charles Tillman and Danieal Manning. I’m sure they’ve been told over and over about how much the Eagles throw the ball and know all about his 450 yard game last week. Despite this, I think the Eagles can throw on this team and look for Brent Celek and Jason Avant to see a lot of action on Sunday. Avant’s performance Sunday was great, you just hope he can keep it up. DeSean and Maclin are always going to get a lot of attention so the Avant’s and Celek’s needs to step up. Who knows, maybe we’ll see another Reggie Brown sighting.
Johnny Knox and Devin Hester pose threats in the return game and the Eagles will need to make sure to keep them under control. Sav Rocca has been very disappointing punting the ball so hopefully he can set up his gunners to make plays (although I’m not counting on it). I’ll be interested to see who the Eagles use to return kicks as they’ve been giving a couple different players shots lately.
Like I said (and Donovan too), this is a must win for the Birds. They need to get back on track and finish November with two wins so they get geared up to make a run down the stretch. Losing this game will truly be a heart breaker.