Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) -3, NL O/U at Chicago Bears (1-2) +3, 41.0
O/U, Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill., 8:15 PM Eastern, Sunday

by Badger of

John Madden and Al Michaels bring the Sunday Night Football crew to
the Windy City this week for a big NFC matchup when the Philadelphia
Eagles travel to battle the Chicago Bears on NBC.

The Eagles are coming off of a really tough game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, a game the Eagles won 15-6, but both
running back Brain Westbrook and quarterback Donovan McNabb were
banged up in the victory. Both are still expected to play, which will
be important if the Eagles hope to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys
in the competitive NFC East.

The same cannot be said for the Bears though, as the new season
continues to bring the same questions without any good answers.
Chicago is still struggling on offense without a true No. 1
quarterback, as Kyle Orton has struggled enough so far this season as
the starter that a few in Chicago are actually calling for the return
of Rex Grossman to the role.

Orton was 22-of-34 for 268 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears game Sunday versus Tampa Bay, but his two interceptions and the Bears
overall lack of consistency on offense continues to plague the
defense as they once again wore down at the stretch and lost in
overtime to the Buccaneers, 27-24.

Oddsmakers opened this line late and it’s now at Eagles -3 due to the injury questions surrounding both Westbrook and McNabb. Both are listed as
day-to-day though, so you can possibly expect some movement on the spread if any negative news comes out on either player as they are both HUGE cogs in the Eagles offensive scheme.

Phillys offense has been all McNabb and Westbrook so far this
season, which is why if either is unable to go by Sunday night the
Eagles will be in a world of hurt. McNabb has been healthy and
showing his old form so far, throwing for 838 yards already after
just three games with a 5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception rate and a
102.8 quarterback rating. Westbrook continues to be the NFLs best
duel threat both in the running game (161 yds., 3 TD) and catching
the ball out of the backfield (46 yds., 2 TD). While rookie receiver
DeSean Jackson (256 yards) has given the Eagles the deep threat they
have been lacking all these years. Add it up and the Eagles are 6th
in total yards (373 ypg), 4th in passing (289.3 ypg) and 4th in
scoring (30 ppg).

The Bears offense seems to have found the running game theyve been
lacking for years, as rookie Matt Forte is averaging 100 yards per
game with two scores so far in his first season. Its the passing
game and the play of the quarterback in general that continues to
keep the Bears in the lower half of the teams in the NFC. Receiver
Brandon Lloyd had his best game as a pro last Sunday, catching six
balls for 124 yards and a score, but the Bears passing offense still
ranks 17th in the league at just 174.7 yards a game.

Defensively these two teams are mirror images of each other. Both are stout versus the run (Philly 1st 45.7 ypg; Chicago 5th 71.3 ypg),
but both have a tendency to get gouged through the air (Philly 15th
196.3 ypg; Chicago 28th 249.7 ypg). And in Chicagos case, the lack
of ball control on offense puts them on the field for so many plays
that they wear down late in the fourth quarter, which is why both of
the Bears losses this season have been the come-from-behind variety.

Chicago finally broke the string of Philly wins in this series with
their 19-16 victory over the Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love
last October. Prior to that, the Eagles had won five straight and six
of the last nine in the series straight up, including four in a row
at Chicagos Soldier Field.

But even though the Eagles have enjoyed success straight up, its
actually the Bears that own a 6-4 ATS record in the series in the
last 10 meetings head-to-head. Also, the underdog sports a 5-1 ATS
record in the last six head-to-head, which explains why the road team
is 5-1 ATS in the last six games as well.

There are other betting trends in this series that seem to defy logic.

First, the Bears are just 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games at Soldier
Field. They also struggle in September (1-6-1 ATS in last eight) and
specifically in week four of the season (1-4 ATS last five years).
They are, however, 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games, including a
1-1-1 ATS record so far in 2008.

Philly meanwhile is a rock-solid 3-0 ATS so far in 08, including a
stellar 7-0 ATS mark in their last seven games on the road. The
Eagles are good in September (4-1 ATS in last five) and good in week
four games (4-1 ATS last five years) as well.

Over/under trends are similar, as the offense-inept Bears have actually gone over the total in 20 of their last 27 games versus NFC
foes and in 16 of their last 21 home games. The Eagles have also gone
over the total in five of their last six on the road.

Badgers Pick: Look for the Bears to get back on track with a win here at home.