Behind Enemy Lines: Part III

Our Scout.com experts, Bear Report's John Crist and NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber, go Behind Enemy Lines to take a closer look at Sunday's Week 4 matchup between the Bears and Eagles at Soldier Field. Let's finish this three-part series with some matchups to watch and final predictions.

Matchups to Watch: Bears Offense vs. Eagles Defense
RB Matt Forte vs. Philadelphia linebackers:
It's still early, but from everything I've seen of Forte at the collegiate level and a few games into his professional career, he has all the intangibles of being a premier running back in the NFL. The kid is a stud, and the Eagles have to be aware of every move he makes. I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles designate Stewart Bradley to spy on Forte and shadow him wherever he runs. Bradley has great instincts and is a very good tackler. He has the athleticism and speed to contend with Forte and track him down from sideline-to-sideline.

Forte is tough between the tackles and dangerous on the edge, so if Bradley is caught out of position or a guard gets to the second level and shields him away from a play, Omar Gaither and Chris Gocong will be called on to close in and man the perimeter.

TEs Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen vs. S Brian Dawkins: Although the Bears got a breakout game from Brandon Lloyd this past Sunday against Tampa Bay, the bread and butter of this Chicago, ahem, passing game is the tight end duo of Clark and Olsen. However, they only combined to catch four passes for 24 yards against the Buccaneers, which is troubling since nobody aside from Lloyd has decided to take the bull by the horns at the wide receiver position. If Clark and Olsen can locate those soft spots in the zone vacated by Philly's array of blitzers, they could capitalize on several catch-and-run opportunities.

Dawkins has been one of the premier safeties in the NFL for quite some time and stepped up to the challenge last week after some media members questioned how much he had left in the tank, but he could have trouble in one-on-one coverage with Olsen in particular.

Matchups to Watch: Eagles Offense vs. Bears Defense
QB Donovan McNabb vs. Chicago secondary:
McNabb was brilliant against the Rams during Week 1. He played great against the Cowboys for three quarters during Week 2, but made two critical errors in the fourth quarter that cost the Eagles the game. And last week, he started out perfect against the Steelers, completing 14 of 14 passes as he threw the football with confidence, but he did suffer a chest contusion that made him erratic the rest of the game.


WR DeSean Jackson
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Philadelphia offensive line does a good job of protecting McNabb, and giving him extra time against the Bears is a must. The Chicago secondary is the weak link of the defense. They're currently ranked 28th in the league, allowing 249.7 YPG through the air. With a healthy McNabb behind center it will most likely be an air show on Sunday night, but it remains to be seen how limited he will be throwing the ball.

WR DeSean Jackson vs. S Mike Brown: Despite the fact that the Bears currently rank 28th in the league defending the pass and gave up 407 yards through the air to former teammate Brian Griese in Week 3, Brown and Co. have actually done a pretty good job taking away the deep ball thus far. Griese averaged only 6.1 yards on his 67 passes, meaning he dinked and dunked his way down the field because Brown was largely taking away the deep posts and fly patterns. But Griese was throwing to the likes of Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton, while Jackson, McNabb's shiny new toy on the outside, has blazing speed and will put much more pressure on the Chicago secondary.

Rarely do the Bears ask their cornerbacks to run stride for stride with wideouts on deeper routes, so it will be up to Brown to contain Jackson and prevent him from delivering a back-breaking big play – assuming the rookie doesn't drop the ball at the 1-yard line again, of course.

The Eagles will win this game if ...
... they continue to dominate up front and defend the run as well as they have thus far. The Eagles defense has been swarming around ballcarriers and held Pro Bowl runners Steven Jackson (40 yards rushing), Marion Barber (63) and Willie Parker (20) to minimum gains. It's important that the Eagles limit Forte from having success because if the Bears struggle to get anything going on the ground, Kyle Orton will fold against one of the best secondaries in the league.


DE Adewale Ogunleye
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Eagles will lose this game if ...
... they make too many mental errors. The Eagles were almost perfect last week against the Steelers and overcame the fourth-quarter mistakes that cost them a victory in Dallas the week prior. McNabb's injury is a concern, because if he's hesitant or if the bruise affects his accuracy, the Bears, who have a good defense, will have the ability to create havoc in the backfield.

The Bears will win this game if ...
... they remember how to get pressure on the enemy signal-caller and force McNabb into a couple of crucial mistakes. The fact that Griese was able to drop back into the pocket 67 times this past Sunday and didn't even need to wash his uniform after the game is flat-out inexcusable, regardless of the Bucs' reliance on three-step drops and max-protect schemes. McNabb has been sacked a great deal during his career even though he's incredibly elusive, and he's also not immune to throwing the ball to the other team a few times.

The Bears will lose this game if ...
... the Eagles are truly as good defending the run as the statistics indicate and Forte isn't able to get anything started on the ground. If the Midway Monsters fall behind early and have to rely on Orton to move the football without the benefit of a running game, then the Eagles will pin their ears back and tear after him on every snap. The Bears have been better along the offensive line than many of the experts predicted heading into 2008, but they haven't seen anything like what defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has cooked up for Sunday.

FINAL PREDICTIONS
Chris Steuber: With Brian Westbrook's status unknown and McNabb not quite 100 percent, the Eagles will have to rely on their defense to win this game. Their special teams will also play a huge part in this game, as Saverio Rocca is off to a tremendous start pinning back the opposition deep into their own territory. I expect this to be a low-scoring game up until the second half, where I see the Eagles pulling away from the Bears ... Eagles 24, Bears 10.

John Crist: The Bears weren't supposed to go into Philly and beat the Eagles this past season, and there aren't many prognosticators who think they can pull off another upset even though they'll be home at Soldier Field this time. McNabb and the Eagles look very strong through three games, although not having Westbrook offensively will slow them down to some degree. Nevertheless, that defense played scary against a pretty good Steelers team in Week 3 and could mike life miserable for Orton from start to finish ... Eagles 23, Bears 13.

To go back and read Part I, 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 Publisher of Bear Report. Chris Steuber is the NFL Draft Analyst for Scout.com.


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