Eagles-Bears Betting Preview: Will Chicago Put an End to Foles’ Playoff Magic?
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Khalil Mack and Nick Foles
NFL Playoffs Betting Odds: Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
- Spread: Bears -6.5
- Over/Under: 41
- Time: Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Though there was some market disagreement as to where this line should open, things have been quite stable since. Chicago has sat at -6/-6.5 at most books for the majority of the week and is the only favorite to receive the majority of spread bets (54%) at the time of writing (see live betting data here).
There was some early movement toward Philly, but that didn’t last for long. There hasn’t, however, been any push from sharp bettors to drive the Bears to -7.
Over/under bets and dollars are both essentially split down the middle. But the total has dropped a half point at most books down to 41, which may have something to do with the forecast. — Mark Gallant
Is that Bear weather I see in the forecast? It’s looking like it very well may be.
Right now, the temperature is expected to be in the mid-30s with wind speeds starting around 13 mph and reaching 16 mph by the end of the game. Unfortunately, no rain or snow appears to be in store. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know
Since 2003, teams that failed to make the playoffs in the previous season (Chicago) that are playing a team that did make the playoffs the year before (Philadelphia) have gone 8-22-1 against the spread overall.
Tony Corrente is the head official for the Bears-Eagles Wild Card game on Sunday. Since 2010, home teams are 7-1 straight up in Corrente-officiated games. — Evan Abrams
Chicago won five games a season ago before going from worst to first in the NFC North. Since 2003, teams that won five or fewer games the season prior have gone 7-26 ATS in the playoffs. — John Ewing
Chicago went 12-4 this season, while Philadelphia managed a 9-7 record. Since 2003, the team with the better record has gone 61-84-3 (42%) ATS in the playoffs — John Ewing
Mismatch Bears can exploit: Bears WRs vs. Eagles CBs
Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller all practiced in full on Wednesday, so the Bears are set up wonderfully against the Eagles’ injury-riddled secondary, which has allowed a league-high 90.2 yards to opposing No. 1 wide receivers this season.
The Eagles don’t make a habit of moving their cornerbacks, so we can safely identify our probable matchups on the outside.
Spoiler: They’re all good for the Bears.
- Robinson vs. Avonte Maddox: The Eagles’ fourth-round rookie is considered Pro Football Focus’ No. 60 overall safety this season.
- Gabriel vs. Rasul Douglas: The Bears’ field-stretcher (4.4-second 40-yard dash) boasts a massive speed advantage over Douglas (4.59).
- Miller vs. Cre’Von LeBlanc: The Eagles’ slot corner joined the team in Week 10 and has allowed 23-of-35 targets (66%) thrown into his coverage to be caught for 216 yards and a touchdown — good for a solid 92.1 quarterback rating.
Mitchell Trubisky makes a habit of not zeroing in on a single receiver, but this might be the perfect strategy against an Eagles secondary that seemingly doesn’t have much of a hope of covering anybody. — Ian Hartitz
Mismatch Eagles can exploit: Eagles pass rush vs. Bears offensive line
The Eagles boast a scary-deep defensive line highlighted by …
- Defensive end Brandon Graham (PFF’s No. 10 overall edge defender)
- Defensive end Michael Bennett (No. 26)
- Defensive end Chris Long (No. 29)
- Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (No. 2 among all interior defenders)
Overall, the Eagles (55%) joined the Jaguars (57%) as the league’s only defenses to record a pressure on at least 55% of their opponent’s dropbacks this season.
This isn’t even really about Chicago’s offensive line. The Bears ranked No. 5 in terms of fewest pressures allowed this season and got three-time Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long back last week. It’s more about Mitchell Trubisky.
The UNC alumni ranked 36th among 39 quarterbacks in accuracy under pressure this season, meaning the Eagles have a chance of limiting the damage caused by their cornerbacks if they can find a way to rattle Trubisky. — Ian Hartitz
Foles is the guy who passed for 971 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception in three postseason games last year en route to a world title. He’s also the guy who has a season with 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions to his name.
Mitch Trubisky is the other guy. – Chris Raybon
Coaching edge: Eagles
Both of these teams feature top offensive minds at head coach in Doug Pederson for the Eagles and Matt Nagy for the Bears, as well as well-coached defensive units with the Eagles being coordinated by Jim Schwartz and the Bears by Vic Fangio.
Though Fangio deserves the edge over Schwartz after overseeing the top defense in the league in terms of points allowed (17.7), and though Nagy deserves major credit for taking the Bears from 5-11 to 12-4 in his first season as head coach, I’d still give the Eagles staff the overall edge due to the experience it gained from last season’s Super Bowl run, which they accomplished despite Foles needing to fill in at quarterback for an injured Carson Wentz.
Pederson is more aggressive than Nagy, going 14-of-23 on fourth down this season, the second-most attempts and makes in the league, while Nagy attempted only 15 fourth-down conversions (T-20th) and made nine (14th).
Nagy also attempted only three challenges and is still looking for his first won challenge, while Pederson went 3-of-6 this year and has gone 12-of-23 in three seasons as head coach. – Chris Raybon
Special Teams: Eagles
While I think the Eagles will be at a disadvantage on offense and defense, they should have an advantage in two key areas: intangibles (experience, nothing to lose, coaching) and special teams.
Given their field goal kicking situation, the Bears arguably have the worst special teams unit of all of the playoff teams. Cody Parkey has made just 76.7% of his field goals this year. Only five teams in the NFL have a worse percentage.
He’s also missed three from less than 40 and three extra points. With all of the talk surrounding his struggles leading up to this game, if Parkey misses an early kick and the Chicago crowd turns on him, it could get ugly for the former Eagle.
And while Jake Elliott has dealt with inconsistency issues on short field goals early on his career, we haven’t seen as much of that this year.
The Memphis product has connected on 26-of-31 field goals this season (good for a middle-of-the-road 83.9%), but only one of those five misses came from under 40 — and three came from over 50.
Elliott was also 33-of-35 on XPs. Not earth-shattering numbers, but significantly better than Parkey.
In terms of the punt game, things are pretty close to even, though the Eagles rank tied at the top of the NFL (with the Saints) in net punting at 45.0 yards. The Bears rank a very average 14th at 41.9.
However, the one area the Bears really excel at on special teams is punt returns, as Tarik Cohen’s 12.5 punt return average ranks fourth among qualified returners. The Eagles have struggled in this department, averaging just 6.5 yards per return.
Sproles won’t hurt Philly in the punt return game, but he just doesn’t have the same burst he once did — and certainly not the explosiveness Cohen currently owns.
Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles rank 12th overall in special teams DVOA, while the Bears rank 29th. And that feels like a fair representation of how these two respective units have performed this season.
Which team is healthier? Bears
Allen Robinson (ribs), Taylor Gabriel (shoulder) and Anthony Miller (shoulder) are tentatively expected to suit up Sunday after practicing in full on Wednesday.
The only question marks for Chicago revolve around stud safety Eddie Jackson (ankle) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (elbow).
And then there’s the Eagles.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace (ankle), linebacker D.J. Alexander (hamstring), left guard Isaac Seumalo (pec), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring), defensive end Michael Bennett (foot), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (knee), center Jason Kelce (knee) and left tackle Jason Peters (quad) all were unable to get in a full practice to start the week.
The good news is head coach Doug Pederson already confirmed Nick Foles (ribs) is good to go for Sunday. — Ian Hartitz
For the Bears: Chicago D/ST
The Bears will square off against an Eagles team that is implied for a slate-low 17.5 points, while Chicago checks in as the slate’s largest favorite, favored by six points.
Unsurprisingly, the Bears defense is tied with the Ravens for a slate-high in Ceiling Projection in the FantasyLabs Player Models.
The Bears have been one of the best teams at generating pressure this season, evidenced by their 34.5% pressure rate (fifth-highest), and their 3.13 sacks per game is the third-highest mark, per Sports Info Solutions.
Their defense has dominated in DFS this season, averaging a league-best 12.83 DraftKings points per game, with an average +4.93 Plus/Minus and 78% Consistency Rating.
For the Eagles: No one
Given how well the Bears defense is set up in this spot and how dominant they’ve been this year, it’s hard to make a case for any Eagles player on the road in Chicago. — Justin Bailey
Bets to watch
Eagles +6.5: After a Super Bowl-winning run last season and wins against the 13-3 Rams and 11-5 Texans over the past three weeks, the Eagles shouldn’t be written off with Foles at quarterback — even against a defense as good as Chicago’s.
Just ask the Vikings how well their vaunted defense fared against Foles in last year’s playoffs, when Foles passed for 353 yards and three touchdowns on Minnesota in a 38-7 Eagles win in the NFC Championship game.
Nagy deserves a lot of credit for turning the Bears around quickly, taking them from 5-11 to 12-4 in his first season with the team, but he’ll have his hands full trying to out-coach Pederson fresh off a Super Bowl run with Foles.
Historical trends also aren’t in Nagy and Co.’s favor, as John and Evan referenced earlier.
The Eagles have a real shot at winning this game, so I love them as by far the biggest underdog on the board. — Chris Raybon
Under 41: There are a handful of reasons to like this under. First, Philadelphia and Chicago aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts, ranking 16th and 20th, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
On the other side of the ball, the Bears sport the league’s top defense, per DVOA. The Eagles’ defense is simply average at 15th in the NFL, but the Bears struggle throwing the ball, which should help Philly keep them in check.
In addition, these are two of the slowest teams in the league with Chicago ranking 27th and Philadelphia 30th in situation-neutral pace.
And don’t expect the weather to do these offenses any favors either. The current forecast is calling for steady winds of 13 mph and, according to Bet Labs, NFL games played in double-digit breezes have gone under the total 55.9% of the time since 2003.
In fact, unders are 70-53-4 (56.9%) in all NFL playoff games played outdoors since 2004. — PJ Walsh
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.