For the first time since 2010, the Chicago Bears are in the playoffs. They ended the regular season on a strong note, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-10. With that win, they were able to knock the Vikings out of the playoffs. The Bears now will turn their attention to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles struggled this season and looked like they were experiencing a Super Bowl hangover. However, they’re coming into the playoffs hot, winning three in a row and five of six. Nick Foles will try and recreate the magic that he had during last year’s playoffs. The strength of this Eagles team though is their defensive line. They arguably have one of the most dangerous pass rushes in the game. This Bears offensive line will definitely be tested like never before in Sunday’s matchup.
Bears Must Slow Down Eagles Pass Rush
The Bears offensive line has been pretty solid this season. They’ve allowed the eight fewest sacks, and are seventh in adjusted sack rate percentage. That’s pretty impressive considering they’ve faced guys like Aaron Donald, Danielle Hunter, and DeForest Buckner. Their offensive line is back at full strength as well. Bears guard Kyle Long returned from injury this past weekend and make the Bears offensive line even more dangerous. They must overcome the difficult task of slowing down the Eagles pass rush. The Eagles ranked eighth in sacks this season and eleventh in quarterback hits.
Fletcher Cox once again had a monster year from his defensive tackle position. He was second among defensive tackles in sacks and made the pro bowl for the fourth time in his career. His strength and power will be difficult for the Bears interior lineman to contain. Look for the Bears to double-team him as much as possible. They deployed this strategy against Aaron Donald and were able to hold him to zero sacks in that matchup.
Michael Bennett was acquired via trade from the Seattle Seahawks in the off-season. In his first year with the Eagles, Bennett put together a very quality season. He was second on the team in sacks and put together one of the better statistical seasons of his career. Like Fletcher Cox, Bennett uses his strength and power to muscle past defenders. However, even being as big as he is, Bennett has some very good speed and finesse moves. Charles Leno and Bobby Massie will have their hands full in trying to stop Bennett.
Overall Depth of the Defensive Line
Although Cox and Bennett get most of the attention for the Eagles, Philly has three other guys who can cause problems as well. Chris Long, Derek Barnett, and Brandon Graham didn’t put up great statistical seasons, but are dangerous and can have a major impact on the game. Graham had a career year last season. He recorded a career-high nine and a half sacks and was one of the key pieces that helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl. Long is a savvy vet who has over 70 career sacks. He also has won multiple super bowls. Derek Barnett is in his second season and has shown flashes of being a quality pass rusher for many years to come.
The Bears definitely have their work cut out for them this Sunday. They get the defending super bowl champion Eagles who will be ready to play in this game. The key for the Bears will be attempting to slow down the vaunted Eagles pass rush. If they’re able to contain them, the Bears have a very good chance to win this game.