The Eagles won the Super Bowl with a former Chiefs offensive coordinator last season. The Bears are looking to follow suit with their own surprise team this year.
Coach Doug Pederson saw plenty of breakdowns with his team in Philadelphia this season, and with more magic from backup QB Nick Foles, the Eagles are fortunate to have qualified for the playoffs and extended their championship defense. Matt Nagy, the front-runner for coach of the year, brought Chicago’s offense up to a better level to complement a signature defense.
MORE: SN’s NFL playoff predictions
This wild-card meeting is the only one of the weekend that isn’t a rematch from the regular season. The Eagles will lean heavily on their winning experience from last year to survive in a different situation as an underdog No. 6 instead of a favorite No. 1. The Bears will try to forget about their youth and stay relentless, like they have for most of Nagy’s rookie season.
The offensive schemes have much in common, including former Philly Special passer Trey Burton now serving as the Bears’ starting tight end. Up front defensively, coordinators Jim Schwartz and Vic Fangio will use their considerable talent to try to slow down each attack and rattle the quarterbacks, Foles and Mitchell Trubisky.
Expect an old-school, gritty game, as this matchup throws it back to the glory days of two long-standing NFL franchises, with an assist from the January weather one would expect in Chicago. This will mark the fourth time these teams have met in the playoffs during the Super Bowl era. The Eagles have won two of three, with the Bears’ only victory coming in the “Fog Bowl” 30 years ago.
Here’s how Sporting News’ team of NFL experts sees the game playing out.
NFL playoff picks: Eagles at Bears
- Date, time: Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET
- Location: Soldier Field, Chicago
- TV: NBC
- Odds: Bears -6; Total: 41
Vinnie Iyer: The feel-good playoff story of Foles will end with a thud in this game. Foles will fight through his battered ribs to hang in there as a gunslinger early in the game, but eventually, Khalil Mack and the Bears’ pass rush will rattle him from all angles.
What will be particularly difficult for Foles is Chicago stopping the run and rendering Philadelphia one-dimensional to get to tee-off mode early. On the other side, Trubisky will get more help from his backs, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, and Nagy will dial up the aggressiveness with timely, big pass plays to put the game away.
Pick: Bears, 27-10
David Steele: The Bears’ defense could be the unit that ends up dominating the playoffs, a remarkable development in this offense-heavy season. They have to prove it right out of the box, though, because they, their players and their coach are postseason novices compared to their opponent. The Eagles are riding their Super Bowl win of last year and the momentum of their late-season charge this year to slip back into the playoffs.
It would take a group led by Mack and smothering opposing offenses to counteract what Foles and the Eagles have been able to do. The Bears haven’t sneaked up on anybody for weeks, or flown under the radar. They don’t need to, though, to get through this round.
Pick: Bears, 24-19
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Tadd Haislop: An NFL world in which Foles enters the Eagles’ playoff opener as the more experienced postseason quarterback against a first-round pick is a strange one, but here we are. The play of Trubisky is the real wild card in this wild-card game, especially against a vulnerable Philadelphia pass defense. His coach, meanwhile, is part of the best matchup in this game: Nagy vs. Schwartz.
For all of the Bears’ edge-rush pop with Mack, the Eagles are stacked on both lines of scrimmage. And that aforementioned experience matters more than it should.
Pick: Eagles, 30-20
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