Five Things to Watch Sunday

Bear Report is covering the afternoon matchup in Week 7 between the Bears and Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, and here are the top five things to be on the lookout for that could have a major effect on the final score.

1. Will Westbrook be as much of a killer as Peterson was?
The Bears were about as bad on defense last week as they've ever been during the Lovie Smith Era, surrendering a franchise record 311 yards rushing to the Vikings in a 34-31 loss at home. Rookie tailback Adrian Peterson officially had his coming out party to the NFL, racking up 224 yards on the ground and scoring three touchdowns in electrifying fashion. Chicago's front four was pushed around my Minnesota's beefy offensive line all afternoon, and the Eagles feature an O-line that is equally massive.

Brian Westbrook may not be the natural runner that Peterson is, but he's incredibly elusive in open space and catches the ball out of the backfield as well as any player in the league.

2. Can Griese stop turning the ball over like Grossman?
The primary reason Brian Griese was elevated to the starting role and Rex Grossman was relegated to backup duty was because Grossman proved to be too careless with the football. However, Griese has thrown six interceptions in his three starts, equaling the half-dozen picks Grossman was responsible for in his three starts. While Griese has been much more productive in the passing game and tossed seven touchdowns to Grossman's one, the Bears are not winning the turnover battle like they did all last year and simply must eliminate the giveaways if they want to right the ship once and for all.

Griese's 82.0 passer rating is light years better than Grossman's 45.2, but the offense simply isn't good enough to withstand constant giveaways, especially with the defense not playing up to its usual lofty standard.

3. Could Archuleta really be as bad as Washington made him out to be?

S Adam Archuleta
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Adam Archuleta signed the richest contract in history for a safety when he left the Rams for the Redskins before the 2006 season, but he was quickly demoted and forced to contribute solely on special teams well before earning his $10 million signing bonus. Smith coached Archuleta back when he was the defensive coordinator in St. Louis and swore up and down that he could make him an effective player once again, believing that Washington did not take advantage of his skills near the line of scrimmage and asked him to play out in space too often. But it appears that Smith overestimated Archuleta's ability to assimilate back into a Cover-2 system since he was essentially benched in the second half against the Vikings, and said benching had nothing to do with the fact that he's currently playing despite a small cast on his broken right hand.

He looks lost in coverage and hasn't tackled very well when playing in the box, so don't be surprised if Danieal Manning and Brandon McGowan are getting most of the crunch-time snaps at the safety position against the Eagles even if Archuleta technically gets the starting assignment.

4. Can Turner stick with the running game and not get all pass-happy?
The Bears are 2-0 this season when tailback Cedric Benson gets at least 20 carries, but they are 0-4 when he gets 19 or fewer. Benson is still only averaging 3.1 yards per attempt on the year and hasn't broken a run longer than 16 yards, but a commitment to the running game means controlling time of possession, giving the defense sufficient time to rest, and keeping Donovan McNabb and Co. helplessly watching from the sideline. It's true that Griese was pretty effective slinging the ball all over the field last week and posted an impressive 381 yards through the air, but that has never been true Midway Monster football and never will be.

Philly is ninth in the league against the run and only gives up 91.2 yards per game on the ground, however, Benson was having success against the Vikings' top-ranked unit in the first half last Sunday before offensive coordinator Ron Turner forgot about him after intermission.

5. Is the loser of Sunday's game eliminated from playoff contention already?
When the 2007 regular season began, the Bears and Eagles were both leading contenders to possibly compete in the NFC championship game for a shot at Super Bowl XLII. But with Chicago struggling along at 2-4 and Philadelphia equally disappointing at 2-3, it's a distinct possibility that Sunday's matchup serves as an elimination game in terms of postseason aspirations. LB Brian Urlacher told the media Thursday that it was going to take an 8-2 run the rest of the way just to qualify for the playoffs, and while a streak like that is within reason, an 8-1 finish should the Bears falter in the City of Brotherly Love simply does not seem possible at this point.

The Bears saved their season in Week 5 by upsetting the previously undefeated Packers in Green Bay, so they'll have to work some on-the-road magic once again in order to keep their championship dreams alive.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

  • Comparing Urlacher to Butkus and Singletary
  • "New" Soldier Field vs. "Old" Soldier Field
  • Reliving the 61-7 win over Green Bay in 1980
  • An excerpt from Cindi Dammann's Tailgating Tales
  • Getting to know LB Jamar Williams

All of that plus much more in the latest issue of ...

BEAR REPORT, the only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears ... CLICK HERE to subscribe today

Bear Report Top Stories