Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (-3, 42.5 o/u)
We (football fans) were treated to another week packed full of drama, but it has not concluded just yet. Oh no, instead the NFL schedule-makers have saved the best for last, once again. Week 2’s Monday night (September 19) matchup will see the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) head to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) at 8:30 PM ET. Just for the record, that was sarcasm, but hey, it’s still football, and the two quarterbacks in this one promise to be a step up from last week’s Monday night mockery between the Rams and Niners.
One of those quarterbacks is second-overall pick Carson Wentz. In his NFL debut, Wentz completed 22 of his 37 pass attempts for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Sure, those numbers came in a beat-down of the lowly Browns, but the stat line is impressive, nonetheless.
The rookie quarterback’s favorite target in Week 1 was Jordan Matthews (seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown) but he also spread the love in his first start as Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor both had 50-plus receiving yards, too.
Philadelphia didn’t put the whole offense on their young pivot, taking to the ground 34 times in their 29-10 victory. Ryan Mathews saw 22 of those carries, turning them into 77 yards and a touchdown. The more efficient back on the day was Kenjon Barner, who rushed for 42 yards on just four carries. As a team, the Eagles only averaged 3.9 yards per carry, a number that will have to improve if the team wants to keep pace with the Giants atop the division.
Defensively, the Eagles only allowed 288 total yards in Week 1, while recording three sacks and a turnover, but we do have to remember that it came against an RGIII-led Cleveland offense.
Heading into Week 2, Philadelphia’s defense won’t have to deal with one of the league’s premier offenses, but the Bears offense will certainly provide a bigger challenge for the Eagles than they were given last week.
The Bears are coming off a 24-13 loss to the Texans in Week 1. Led by Jay Cutler (16/29 for 216 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in Week 1), the offense went completely silent in the second-half, failing to score a single point after the break. That came after two 75-yard TD drives in the first-half. Outside of those two drives, the offense only managed eight first downs on its other ten possessions.
Jeremy Langford was held to 57 yards on 17 carries, but did find the endzone on a one-yard plunge. As a team, Chicago averaged 3.6 yards per rush, gave up five sacks, and finished with a measly 258 net yards on the day. The lone bright spot was Alshon Jeffery, who caught four balls for 105 yards, but this only left everyone questioning why he was only targeted six times on the day.
Defensively, the Bears got after Brock Osweiler all day, and forced him out of the pocket on multiple occasions. This came as a bit of a surprise as their best pass-rusher, Pernell McPhee, is on the PUP list. Overall, the Bears defense didn’t allow much to the Houston offense, but just couldn’t get off the field on third-downs, allowing the Texans to convert on 12 of 20 tries.
After one week, we really aren’t sure what either of these two teams are yet. The Bears are coming off of a loss to a team that’s now 2-0; they controled the game until a botched snap on an attempted quarterback sneak on fourth-down. Meanwhile, the Eagles beat up on a Browns team that almost stunned Baltimore in Week 2.
I believe these two offenses are very similar: both want to establish the run, not wanting to put too much on the shoulders of their respective quarterbacks. The Bears have an advantage in terms of talent at the skill positions, mostly due to Alshon Jeffery, and the fact that Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is expected to miss tonight’s game.
However, when I look at the two defenses, the Bears have glaring holes in their secondary, specifically the two safety spots. The most prominent attribute we have heard about Carson Wentz thus far has been his Manning-esque weekly preparation. It is safe to assume that head coach Doug Pederson has been reviewing the weaknesses in the back-end of the Bears defense with his quarterback; the two will be looking to exploit that early and often.
The Bears defense won’t be able to apply enough pressure to make Wentz uncomfortable, allowing him to sit in the pocket and allow the deep routes to develop. Jay Cutler and company won’t be kept as quiet as they were in Week 1, but they won’t be able to keep up with Wentz and the Eagles offense.
Pick: Eagles (+3)
Photo credit: Jim Larrison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/].