Friday, December 20, 2013
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Preview: Bears at Eagles

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[December 20, 2013]  The Philadelphia Eagles squandered an opportunity to gain some ground in the NFC East last week while the Chicago Bears kept their playoff hopes alive with a dramatic victory. Quarterback Jay Cutler will look to make it 2-for-2 when he leads the Bears into Philadelphia on Sunday night. It caused some controversy in Chicago when Cutler was handed the starting spot back after Josh McCown played well in his absence, but a win quickly silenced those cries.

Both the Bears and the Eagles control their own destiny right now, with each clinging to a lead in their respective divisions. Chicago is a half-game ahead of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North and has won two straight by scoring a total of 83 points. The Bears did Philadelphia a big favor with a win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 but the Eagles could not get a stop in a 48-30 loss at Minnesota last week and missed a chance to open up a two-game gap on the Cowboys.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Eagles -3. O/U: 55.5

ABOUT THE BEARS (8-6): Chicago would like to keep some distance between itself and the Packers, who visit the Bears in the regular-season finale. The offense is humming right along no matter who is under center but the defense is an issue, surrendering an average of 31 points over the last four games and ranking last in the NFL against the run. That defense, which is going up against the top rushing offense in Philadelphia, is awaiting the return of Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, who has been out since Week 7 with a fractured shoulder but participated in practice on Wednesday. "It's still day-to-day," coach Marc Trestman said. "I'm optimistic he'll play."


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ABOUT THE EAGLES (8-6): Philadelphia will be scoreboard-watching early in the day, needing a loss by the Cowboys to make a win over the Bears a division-clincher. No matter the importance of the game to their division standings, the Eagles will be looking for more out of a pass defense that is ranked 31st in the league and is shedding bodies to injury on a weekly basis. Safeties Kurt Coleman (hamstring) and Colt Anderson (knee) went down last week and veteran Patrick Chung is losing snaps to ineffectiveness. Rookie safety Earl Wolff (knee) has been out since Week 10 but could make his return on Sunday.

EXTRA POINTS

  1. Bears WRs Brandon Marshall and Alston Jeffery are the most prolific receiving duo in the league with a total of 2,450 yards.

  2. Eagles QB Nick Foles passed for a career-high 428 yards last week but has thrown an interception in each of the last two games after going his first seven starts without a pick.

  3. Chicago RB Matt Forte has gone over 100 yards rushing in three straight games.

PREDICTION: Eagles 41, Bears 38

[ 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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