The Eagles will move to 2-0 with a win over Chicago
The Chicago Bears (0-1) host the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) on Monday night as Carson Wentz gets his first look at prime-time football under the bright lights in the Windy City. With a win, Wentz would become the fifth rookie quarterback to start 2-0 since 1970. His counterpart, Jay Cutler, is surprisingly good on Monday night in his career, boasting an 8-2 record.
Will it be Wentz making a bit of history, or will Cutler continue his winning ways in prime time? History suggests it will be the Bears coming out on top in this one, but the Eagles have a stronger roster and match up far better on both sides of the ball. Here are three reasons the Eagles will move to 2-0 with a win over the Bears.
The Bears are depleted at CB
Kyle Fuller is questionable for this one, leaving the Bears with Tracy Porter as their only starting-caliber cornerback. Behind him, it’ll be 5-foot-9 Bryce Callahan, Jacoby Glenn and Deiondre’ Hall. By no means are those well-known names or players the Bears are exceptionally comfortable starting, but they don’t have a choice.
Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Dorial Green-Beckham should have success, particularly when Matthews is in the slot against Callahan – a spot the Eagles receiver lines up in fairly often. This will make Carson Wentz’s life much easier as he won’t be throwing into tight windows against lockdown cornerbacks (similar to his debut against the Browns).
Zach Ertz is sidelined for this one, and as a result, the Eagles will go with more three-wide sets, putting even more pressure on Chicago’s cornerbacks. They did a good job against DeAndre Hopkins last week, but Will Fuller went off for 107 yards and a touchdown. That’s the sort of game Matthews should have.
Getty ImagesRich Schultz
Carson Wentz will outplay Jay Cutler
The rookie quarterback was fortunate to start his NFL career against the paltry Cleveland Browns, but his stellar debut wasn’t the result of that. He has an NFL arm and the size to stand in the pocket and deliver throws to his receivers. It’s far too soon to sit here and say he’s the next John Elway, but Wentz looks like the real deal – and he’ll back that up on Monday night.
Wentz, given the Eagles’ offensive line and the weapons around him, will outplay Cutler. Sure, the Bears have Alshon Jeffery, but Kevin White clearly isn’t up to speed and made a few errors last week against the Texans. The Eagles defense will limit Chicago’s big plays, whereas the Bears defense will not. This bodes well for Wentz, who completed 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns last week (101.0 passer rating).
The rookie showed the ability to drive the ball downfield with his exceptional arm strength, and seeing as the Bears are thin at cornerback and underwhelming at safety, Doug Pederson figures to give his quarterback several opportunities to take shots deep. There’s no question this will be a tougher test for Wentz, but it will be Cutler struggling with turnovers in this one.
Eagles’ D-line vs. Bears’ O-line
The Eagles have one of the most expensive defenses in the NFL, with the team allocating over $95 million in the defense. That’s the fourth most in football, and the defensive line makes up most of that thanks to Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry. In this game, the line is going to have to earn its money.
The Bears don’t have a strong offensive line, but the interior of it is better than it was expected to be. Now that Kyle Long has been kicked inside and they snapped up Josh Sitton after the Packers cut him, Jay Cutler has solid protection up the middle. It’s on the edges that the Bears struggle, which is where Curry, Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin roam.
The Eagles can undoubtedly win on the edge, however, Cox and Bennie Logan will have to be better than Long and Sitton. If they can come out on top in that battle, the Eagles will be in good shape on defense. Cutler doesn’t handle pressure well and it often leads to turnovers, which was the case last week against the Texans. He threw an interception and fumbled it twice as he was sacked five times. If the Eagles can put that sort of heat on Cutler, there’s no doubt he’ll make ill-advised throws.