Behind Enemy Lines Part 3

Shawn Andrews (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Warnest.com's Chris Steuber and John Crist of Bear Report, break down Sunday afternoon's game between the Bears and Eagles Steuber and Crist finish the three-part series with some matchups to watch, game scenarios, and final predictions.

Matchup to watch when the Eagles are on offense:
RB Brian Westbrook vs. LB Brian Urlacher

It used to be that Donovan McNabbwas the concern of defenses around the league, but over the last couple of seasons, Westbrook has been the player that defensive coordinators gameplan for when they face the Eagles. Urlacher will depend on his tackles up front to hold their ground and not allow Shawn Andrews or Todd Herremans to reach the second level and get their hands on the Bears' star middle linebacker.

If Urlacher is able to shoot the gaps and make plays in the backfield against the Eagles, he'll be able to contain Westbrook. However, if Urlacher overpursues on play action, Westbrook can burn the Bears defense on screens. This should be an interesting matchup.

Matchup to watch when the Eagles are on defense:
Philadelphia's defensive line vs. Brian Griese
The Eagles have to continue to get pressure up front and get in the face of the opposing quarterback. Griese has played well for the Bears since he replaced Rex Grossman, but he forces the issue and will turn the ball over.

Turnovers will play a huge part in this game, and the Eagles will try to get Griese to turn the ball over.


DE Jevon Kearse
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Matchup to watch when the Bears are on offense:
RT Fred Miller vs. DE Jevon Kearse
Miller has been a quality player in this league for a long time, but now he's 34 years old and has not had a very good season at right tackle. His job won't get any easier on Sunday against Kearse, who's clearly not the player he used to be either yet has registered a sack in each of his last two games. But Griese has done a good job getting rid of the football on time consistently, something Grossman was never able to do.

Personally, I've always believed that Kearse was a one-trick pony and one of the most overrated players in the NFL, but 68.5 career sacks is an impressive number no matter how you slice it.

Matchup to watch when the Bears are on defense:
DE Mark Anderson vs. LT William Thomas
Thomas has been limited to two games this season with a sprained MCL but will certainly be an upgrade over his replacement, Winston Justice, who was absolutely mauled by the Giants' Osi Umenyiora in Week 4. Thomas – I liked him better as "Tra" Thomas when he and I were freshman together at Florida State back in `97 – will be put to the test right away, as Anderson is one of the most promising young pass-rushers in all of football and has four sacks in six games. Donovan McNabb is still pretty mobile and keeps plays alive in the pocket, but he's been sacked a lot over the course of his career and went down a ridiculous 12 times in that Giants game.

Chicago's front four had a miserable performance last week against Minnesota, so Anderson and Co. have something to prove in Philly.

The Eagles will win this game if ...
... McNabb plays a consistent game and can spread the ball around to all of his receivers. The Bears will focus most of their attention on Westbrook and dare the Eagles' passing attack to beat them.

This is a huge game for McNabb to show that he's still the same dynamic player he used be and take over the game, not with his feet, but with his arm.

The Eagles will lose this game if ...
... they allow Devin Hester to beat them on special teams. The Eagles' special teams have been horrible this season, and if they put the ball in Hester's hands, it's going to be a long day for them.

Hester is the best return man I've ever seen, and I'm still surprised that any team in the league allows him to return any kickoff or punt.

The Bears will win this game if ...
... the defensive line gets after McNabb and takes some pressure off the secondary. Chicago's DBs have been abused the last few weeks, proving that the losses of first S Mike Brown and then CB Nathan Vasher were nothing short of catastrophic. Danieal Manning will move back from corner to free safety, which means that seventh-round rookie Trumaine McBride will probably see a lot of action and might even start if the Bears elect to keep Ricky Manning Jr. strictly at nickelback. McNabb is still a capable scrambler despite tearing his knee last season, but he usually scrambles to throw as opposed to tucking it and running like he did earlier in his career.

Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid has done a better job of running the football the last year or so, but we all know that he loves to throw, throw, and throw some more when the matchups are in his favor – they certainly are in this game.


LB Hunter Hillenmeyer
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears will lose this game if ...
... Westbrook proves to be just as elusive as Adrian Peterson. Westbrook is arguably the best running-and-receiving combination tailback in the league, and the Bears have to be a little bit shellshocked already after they allowed a franchise record 224 yards to Peterson and 311 total on the ground to the Vikings just a week ago. Westbrook's ability to function as a wide receiver with the way he catches the ball out of the backfield will only make him more dangerous, especially if he gets matched up with the likes of Hunter Hillenmeyer or Adam Archuleta in open space. Archuleta, as a matter of fact, might not even start considering how bad he's been both tackling in run support and covering downfield.

The secondary has not played well in recent weeks, no question about it, but they will be even more exposed and potentially vulnerable if the front seven can't keep Westbrook somewhat contained.

FINAL PREDICTIONS
Chris Steuber:
The Eagles defense has to continue their stellar play and hold the Bears offense. The biggest concern is the versatility of Hester and his big-play ability. If the Eagles can hold Hester in check and not allow him to play a huge role in this game, they should come out victorious ...
EAGLES 23, BEARS 17

John Crist: Bears vs. Eagles was a pretty popular NFC championship game prediction at the start of the season, but with Chicago currently 2-4 and Philadelphia just 2-3, the loser of this game for all intents and purposes could be eliminated from playoff consideration. Both teams are desperate for a win and have been fighting inconsistency all season long, so being at home gives the Eagles the edge. The Bears couldn't stop a pretty pedestrian Vikings offense last week, which means they'll have their hands full once again with McNabb and Westbrook ...
EAGLES 27, BEARS 20

To go back and read Part I of Behind Enemy Lines, where Chris answers five questions from John, Click Here. For Part II, where John answers five questions from Chris, Click Here.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com.

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