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Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Jay Cutler matched a career-high with four touchdown passes to lead Chicago to a 31-26 victory over Philadelphia in a battle at Soldier Field.
Cutler connected on 14-of-21 throws for 247 yards as the Bears (8-3) put together their highest scoring game of the season to win for a fourth straight outing.
Michael Vick connected on 29-of-44 passes for 333 yards and two scores along with his first interception of the season, and ran nine times for another 44 yards for the Eagles (7-4), who had their three-game win streak halted.
LeSean McCoy carried 10 times for 53 yards and hauled in eight passes for 67 yards while Jason Avant made eight receptions for 83 yards for Philadelphia, which fell into a first place tie with the New York Giants in the NFC East.
Trailing by 15, Philadelphia advanced to the Bears 10 before a screen pass to McCoy lost nine yards and had to settle for a 36-yard Akers field goal that cut the lead to 31-19 with 4:47 left in the game.
The Eagles forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at their own 32 with 4:18 to play. Vick completed six passes to McCoy and Avant before being faced with 4th-and-9 at the Bears 30. Vick then threaded a scoring pass between two defenders to Brent Celek to trim the lead to 31-26 with 1:48 to go.
Philadelphia had no timeouts left and was forced into an onside kick that was recovered by Johnny Knox to effectively end the game.
The Eagles got on the board first with a 45-yard field goal from Akers with just under nine minutes to play in the opening session.
Chicago responded with a quick four-play drive that culminated in Cutler’s 10- yard scoring strike to Bennett. A 61-yard run by Forte on two plays prior set up the touchdown.
Hester took a screen pass 39 yards to the Eagles 21 on the Bears next touch to set up Cutler’s 20-yard scoring toss to a wide open Knox with 2:25 to go in the period to make it 14-3 and finish off a four-play, 59-yard drive.
Philadelphia answered with a 10-play, 65-yard march that Vick finished off with an eight-yard scoring toss to Jeremy Maclin. It was Vick’s 12th scoring pass of the year without an interception, making him the first quarterback to accomplish that feat from the start of the season since Randall Cunningham did it with the Vikings in 1998.
The Eagles reached the Chicago three on their next possession before Vick was sacked by Julius Peppers and recovered his own fumble at the 18. Akers came on to boot a 36-yarder to draw the visitors to within 14-13 with 8:08 to play in the half.
A huge momentum swing took place in the final stages of the first half after Vick directed another drive that moved to the Bears four. However, a tipped pass was intercepted in the end zone by Chris Harris, who returned it to his own 37 on the first play after the two-minute warning. It ended a franchise record streak of 220 consecutive passes without a pick to start the season.
Chicago capitalized on the turnover, as Cutler found Bennett from six yards out to finish off a six-play, 63-yard drive in only 72 seconds to give the hosts a 21-13 advantage at the intermission.
Olsen made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone on Cutler’s pass from nine yards out just 84 seconds into the second half to give the Bears a 28-13 lead. Hester returned the opening kick 46 yards and took a short pass 34 yards to the Eagles 18 before a horse collar tackle penalty on rookie safety Nate Allen moved the ball halfway to the goal line.
Chicago then authored a season-long 17-play drive that chewed up 10:05 and culminated in Robbie Gould’s 23-yard field goal that pushed the advantage to 31-13 with 1:26 left in the period.
Philadelphia’s next drive stalled at the Bears four before Akers booted a 22- yarder to chip away at the lead with 11:51 left in the contest.
Cutler had thrown four TD passes in four other games, most recently in the last two games of the 2009 season against Minnesota and Detroit…Hester made three catches for 86 yards while Knox caught three balls for 68 yards…Forte became the first back to run for more than 100 yards against the Eagles this season…Long snapper Patrick Mannelly became the first player ever to play in 200 games as a member of the Bears….Vick had his second 300-yard passing game of the season and fourth of his career…Maclin made four catches for 47 yards and Celek added three grabs for 50 yards…Trent Cole moved into third place in Eagles history with his first quarter sack of Cutler…He had two QB drops to bring his career total to 56…Cole trails only Reggie White (124) and Clyde Simmons (76.5) in Philadelphia history.
The Bears, with a two score lead, start running out the clock. With 4:30 left, the Philadelphia Eagles are out of timeouts. The Bears go three and out, and the Eagles will start at their own 32, after the fair catch.
Two short passes give Michael Vick and Philly a first down at the 43, and follow with a seven yard run. The Bears are giving up the short passes in the middle, and keeping their safeties back. An offensive pass interfence followed by an 11 yard pass, and we’re down to the two -minute warning.
Third and nine, and Vick throws up a floater, incomplete. On fourth down he finds Brent Celek, who makes an incredible catch in traffic, for a touchdown,
It’s 31-26 Bears, with 1:48, and the eagles set up for an onside kick. The wind forces the Eagles to use a holder. Johnny Knox comes up with it. A brief tempest in a teapot over whether he was touched on the catch, and the Bears run out the clock.
Jay Cutler takes a knee on second down, but the lines are fighting again. There’s a flag, but no penalty.And the game ends with another scrap on the line.
Bears win 31-26. Final.
A Nick Roach holding penalty, brings back another excellent runback, this time by Danieal Manning. costingthe Bears 36 yards. They start from the 19, and Matt Forte goes nowhere on a run. Jay Cutler hits Johnny Knox who extends the run after the catch for a total of 36 yards. Matt Forte takes the next handoff, and takes the ball to ther 46, second and nine. An end around to Hester goes nowhere, and the shoving match is on again, as Philly is getting frustrated.
Third and nine and incomplette. The Bears want a flag, and Jay Cutler is flagged for unsportsmanlinke conduct, making the punt 15 yards deeper.
Cutler has been animated all game long, and the Bears are playing with an unusual intensity.
DeSean Jackson slips and the Eagles start at their own 23. First down, and Michael Vick throws incomplete. Jason Avant gets a first down, as Vick has all day to throw. On first down from his own 46, Vick takes off, and gets an five yards on a hands to the face penalty. A long pass and suddenly the \eagles are first and goal. An incomplete to DeSean Jackson, is followed by a screen that loses ten yards, as the whole defensive line was in pursuit. Third down and Julius Peppers dives and takes Vick down by the foot.
David Akers connects making it 31-19. with 4:47 left in the game.
The Eagles run back the ensuing kickoff to the 31 nad Michael Vick gives to LeSean McCoy for five yards. Jeremy Maclin takes the next pass to the Bears 39 yard line. The Eagles lose two on a botched handoff to end the third quarter.
The fourth quarter opens with the Eagles looking at second and twelve, and Vick throws incomplete.On third down Vick scrambles close to a first down. On fourth and inches Andy reid sends Vick in to sneak across the left end for the first.
On first down a screen LeSean McCoy goes to the Bears nine for first and goal, he gains two more on the next play. Second and goal and Michael Vick’s pass is defelcted. Charles Tillman stops them at the two yard line, and david Akers kicks a 22 yarder. 31-16 Bears.
The Eagles working from a hole now, start their second half with an incomplete, and a Vick fumble. On third and eighteen, Philadelphia takes their first timeout.
They follow with A LeSean McCoy run, and the Eagles punt.
Devin Hester lets it go, and the Bears start at their own 12 yard line. A Matt Forte run is negated by a holding call, putting the ball at the six yard line. Forte goes 28 yards on the next play, then Cutler gets in on the act, running 12 yards, to the 46 for a first down.Earl Bennett hands off to forte for five yards.
Cutler flips to Forte for a first down.
Chester Taylor loses four, when the Eagles come in untouched. A wildcat snap to Bennett gets a first and the Bears are on fire. A couple plays later and they're back in the red zone. On second and four, Forte pushes over the 10 yard line. On third down , a quick screen and the Bears are first and goal for the four.
Two Chester Taylor runs goes nowhere, and it's third and goal from the five. On the sixteenth play of the drive, Cutler throws it a way, and Robbie Gould kicks a 23 yard field goal
The Bears tied the Eagles for defensive takeaways, with Chris Harris intercepting Vick in the second quarter. Earl Bennett is having a career day, with his first two TD game. The Bears lead 21-13 at the half and will be receiving the kickoff.
The Bears offense has given up three sacks, but has come up huge, making big plays on the ground and in the air. Three plays of over thirty yards, in the first half.
Devin Hester is back to return the kickoff. He goes 46 yards before slipping. The Bears start the second half at mid-field.
After a Matt Forte run, the lines engage in a little shoving match. second and eight. Jay Cutler rolls out and hoits Devin Hester for 34 yards, and they tack on a personal foul, for a horse collar, the Bears are on the nine yard line.Greg Olsen takes the ball away from Dimitri Patterson, on the Cutler pass and just like that, the Bears lead 28-13
With eight minutes to go, the Bears start from their own 19 yard line. A Matt Forte run goes two yards. Jay Cutler is sacked for the third time, putting them at third and sixteen. And is sacked again by Trent Cole. The Eagles are getting to Cutler quickly, leaving no time to set anything up.
With 6:19 left, Philadelphia fair catches the punt, in Bears territory. on first down Michael Vick hands off to McCoy, who is wrapped up by D.J. Moore, behind the line of scrimmage. Brent Celek takes a pass for nine yards to the 34. Third and three and Vick hits Jeremy Maclin for a first down..
Jeremy Harrison is wrappd up after a two yard run, and Vick methodically takes the middle of the field hitting Jason Avant for a first, and another when LeSean McCoy goes 11 yards on a screen.
Vick seems to be moving the ball at will, and the eagles are poised to score again.
First and goal and Vick hits Jerome Harrison for four yards on a screen, at the two minute warning.
Second and goal, and the Bears intercept! Chris Harris takes the deflected pass 38 yards with 1:50 left in the half.
Jay Cutler and Devin Hester hook up to bring the ball to mid-field. Earl Bennett shakes multiple tackles to take the next pass to the Eagles 20.
Cutler lofts one to Devin Hester in the end zone, incomplete. A laser to Johnny Knox, and the run after the catch makes it first and goal on the six yard line. Earl Bennett misses, then catches the next pass, and crosses the goal line.
The Eagles try to put together a drive with 30 seconds left in the half, with all their timeouts they get to their own 46 yard line when time expires.
The Bears use their second time out with 1:32 on the clock and first down.
Danieal Manning gives the Bears the ball near mid-field, as special teams continues to dominate. Matt Forte loses two, and Jay Cutler uses a time out, and then scrambles for no gain. On third and eleven, the Eagles send in Brandon Graham to sack Cutler for their second sack.
A Corey Graham penalty on the punt gives the Eagles an extra 15 yards, to pout the ball at the 41 yard line. Vick is forced to throw the ball away, then Lesean McCoy goes 18 yards for a first down, and then hits DeSean Jackson for 19. The Eagles are on the Bears 20, and then the nine yard line, following another completion.
A shovel pass bounces off the intended receiver, and Vick runs up the middle for seven. Third and goal at the three, and Julius Peppers chases Vick down, making Vick lose his shoe, and Philly settles for a David Akers field goal.
The Eagles make a couple of quick strikes to end the first quarter, they start the second at the Bears19 yard line. This is the big-play ability that has made Michael Vick the talk of the NFL media. DeSean Jackson can’t hold on to a Vick bullet, and LeSean McCoy takes the next handoff to the 11. A pitchout to Jackson, gets the Eagles first and goal.
Vick sails one past the end zone, as he couldn’t find a receiver. On second down Brian Urlacher bats down the pass. Jeremy Maclin pulls in the third down catch, and falls into the end zone to score.
14-13 Bears lead in the second quarter.
After taking over at the 35 yard line, Michael Vick's first pass is caught, but the receiver slips on the Soldier Field turf, he tries to throw it away, but is sacked on the next play, and after Vick eludes a couple defenders for a five yard gain, the Eagles are forced to punt. The Bears defense is keeping Vick in check thus far, by methodically leaving rushers, near the scrimmage line.
The Bears take over with excellent foeld position, near their 40 yard line. Chester Taylor loses one yard, And Devin Hester breaks free for 39 yards on a screen pass. the Bears have first and ten, on the 21 yard line. Chester Taylor takes the ball for a short gain, on the next play.
Jay Cutler catches the Eagles defense off guard with a play fake and hits Johnny Knox for a touchdown. As the crowd begins singing 'Bear Down Chicago Bears', Robbie Gould kicks the PAT, and the Bears lead 14-3
Starting from their own 21,Jay Cutler scrambles for nine yards. Matt Forte breaks free for 61 yards, on a run up the middle. The Bears have first and goal from the nine yard line, and two plays later Cutler finds Earl Bennett for a touchdown. Robbie Gould kicks the extra point, and the Bears lead 7-3, after a 1:55 four play scoring drive.
With playoff implications in every game from here on, the Chicago Bears receive some good news from Atlanta, where the Falcons kicked a field goal with eight seconds left on the clock, to win 20-17 over the Green Bay Packers. A win today would give the Bears a one -game lead, in the NFC North. Leslie Frazier got his first win as a head coach in the NFL, as the Vikings beat the Washington Redskins 17-13.
The Bears kick off to the Eagles, who begin at their own 27 yard-line. The Bears wrap up the Eagles first two runs, sack Vick, and take over after the punt at their 34 yard-line. Cutler throws an incomplete, and Matt Forte takes the next play for a five yard run. A false start wipes out that gain, and Jay Cutler is sacked and the Bears go three and out.
DeSean Jackson takes the Brad Maynard punt back 36 yards, giving the Eagles great field position. A screen pass for six yards brings the ball into Bears territory. Another screen brings them near the 35 yard line. Vick is forced out of bounds on a three yard run, and the following run nets another four. Vick overthrows Brent Celek, and the Eagles go up on a 45 yard field goal, from David Akers
The Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles meet at Soldier Field at 3:15 Central time. It's 45 degrees and partly cloudy. With the late game, the sun should be setting right around the end of the second quarter. The forecast calls for temperatures to dip to around 35 degrees, with winds gusting over 40 MPH.
The Chicago Prep Bowl was played here on Friday, so field conditions are expected to be rough, at best. That would seem to favor the Bears, who are more accustomed to the vicissitudes of the Soldier Field turf, and theoretically would slow down Philly's speedy quarterback, Michael Vick.
Another posssible advantage for the Bears, is that the Eagles have announced DE Juqua Parker will sit out with a hip injury. Parker has five sacks on the season, second most on the Eagles' defense.
In other NFC North match-ups, the Minnesota Vikings and new head coack Leslie Frazier are leading the Washington Redskins 17-13 late in the fourth quarter. Aaron Rodgers and The Green Bay Packers have tied the Atlanta Falcons 17-17, with 56 seconds left in regulation.
After one half of football, the Atlanta Falcons lead the Green Bay Packers 10-3. The Packers were on the Atlanta one yard-line, and Aaron Rodgers fumbled in the end-zone on a quarterback sneak. Matt Ryan led the Falcons 80 yards and scored on a pass to Tony Gonzalez with 18 seconds left in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings are tied with the Wasuhington Redskins 7-7, at the half. Adrian Peterson left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He was described as ‘probable’ to return.
(Sports Network) – Neither the Philadelphia Eagles nor the Chicago Bears were trendy picks to win their respective divisions this season.
For the Bears, it was the thinking that a tough NFC North figured to be a two- horse race between a pair of clubs not located in Chicago. The Eagles, on the other hand, seemed to be entering the early stages of a brief rebuilding process following the departure of several franchise faces.
Yet, after 11 weeks of action the Eagles and Bears are at the top of their respective standings and both clubs aim for a fourth straight victory this Sunday at Chicago’s Solider Field.
Philadelphia extended its win streak on Sunday night with a hard-fought 27-17 victory over the New York Giants, giving the 7-3 Eagles a one-game edge over the G-men in the NFC East. Chicago, meanwhile, had already taken care of business earlier in the week, shutting out Miami, 16-0, on Thursday to also up its record to 7-3.
Chicago comes into this game well rested after recording its first shutout since Nov. 19, 2006. Facing a hosting Miami club that was down to its third starting quarterback in Tyler Thigpen, the Bears’ defense notched six sacks and gave up under 200 yards of offense.
“The story [Thursday] was, of course, the defense,” said Bears head coach Lovie Smith. “Getting a shutout is tough, no matter where you are, especially on the road. Thought the guys had constant pressure throughout.”
The Bears figured to finish behind the Packers and Vikings in the standings, but their second three-game winning streak of the season and horrid play by Minnesota instead has Chicago challenging Green Bay for its first division title since 2006.
Though they have been to the postseason in two straight and eight of the last 10 years, offseason departures by quarterback Donovan McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook and cornerback Sheldon Brown figured to have Philadelphia starting over in 2010. However, the club winning seven of its first 10 games has it off to its best start since going 9-1 in 2004.
The Eagles broke their deadlock atop the standings with the Giants on Sunday, getting a late 50-yard go-ahead rushing touchdown from running back LeSean McCoy before a gift turnover by New York quarterback Eli Manning, who fumbled the ball on a head-first slide to move the chains despite going untouched. That turnover allowed Philly to drive for another field goal and hold on for the win despite blowing a 13-point lead.
“It was good to see this team in that position fight back and win the game,” Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. “It’s good to see a young team against a tough NFC East opponent get down and come back and show some fight. It will help us out down the road.”
Coming off a historic performance versus the Redskins last Monday night, quarterback Michael Vick did not throw a touchdown pass, but did run for a score while throwing for 258 yards. He is now 5-0 in this season in games he has started and finished.
The performance was not without its flaws as the oft-penalized Eagles were flagged 10 times on Sunday for 119 yards.
Philadelphia also endured a scary moment on the opening kickoff of the second half after return man Ellis Hobbs had to be carted off the field following a helmet-to-helmet hit. X-rays on the defensive back were negative, but an MRI reveled a disc injury that landed Hobbs on injured reserve.
Hobbs’ 2009 season was also cut short by a disc injury, but Reid said on Monday that the previous night’s injury was to a different disc.
Chicago has a 26-9-1 lead in its all-time series with Philadelphia, which dates back to 1933, but the Eagles halted a two-game losing streak in the set with a 24-20 triumph at Soldier Field during Week 11 of last season. Philadelphia has won five of the seven most recent meetings between the teams and has registered a 4-1 record in Chicago over that stretch, with the Bears’ last victory a 24-20 home decision in 2008.
The Eagles have won two of their three lifetime postseason meetings with Chicago, including a 33-19 road win in a 2001 NFC Divisional Playoff. Perhaps the franchise’s most memorable confrontation came in the infamous 1988 “Fog Bowl,” an NFC Divisional Playoff in the Windy City that Chicago won, 20-12.
Reid is 6-2 in his career against Chicago, including the 2001 postseason tilt. Smith is 2-2 against both Reid and Philadelphia as a head coach.
WHEN THE EAGLES HAVE THE BALL
After posting a franchise-record 592 yards the previous week versus Washington, few expected Vick and company to put up a similar effort against the Giants’ top-notched defense. However, Philly managed nearly 400 yards of offense, with 148 of those on the ground. One game after throwing for 333 yards and rushing for another 80 versus the Redskins while also factoring in on six touchdowns — four passing and two running — Vick (1608 passing yards, 16 total TD, 0 INT) was far more limited against New York and also lost a fumble for his first turnover of the season. Dropped passes also hindered the Eagles, who had to settle for four field goals by David Akers. McCoy (726 rushing yards, 51 receptions, 7 total TD) ended with 111 yards on just 14 carries, but 90 of those yards came on two fourth-quarter runs. Regardless, the Eagles still rank second in scoring (28.4 PPG) and total offense (399.4 YPG) and are averaging just over 150 rushing yards per game, good for third in the league. DeSean Jackson (33 receptions, 5 TD) is Vick’s biggest home run threat and the young receiver had five catches for 50 yards versus the Giants, while Jeremy Maclin (47 receptions, 7 TD) led the way with nine receptions and 120 yards. McCoy added five catches out of the backfield.
The Bears got plenty of pressure last Thursday versus the Chiefs, with defensive end Julius Peppers (30 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 INT) logging a career high-tying three of Chicago’s six sacks. The Peppers-fueled defense, which ranks first in scoring defense (14.6 PPG) and third overall (290.4 YPG), held Miami to a mere 187 yards and one third-down conversion. Linebacker Brian Urlacher (67 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT), defensive tackle Henry Melton (13 tackles, 2 sacks) and defensive end Israel Idonije (27 tackles, 6 sacks) all finished with a sack each as well. Vick should prove more elusive in this one and Peppers, Idonije and Urlacher will have their hands full preventing him from taking off on the outside. Corners Tim Jennings (40 tackles, 1 INT) and Charles Tillman (55 tackles, 3 INT) will look for help from safeties Danieal Manning (48 tackles, 1 INT) and Chris Harris (40 tackles, 2 INT) when possible to prevent the big plays. Pressure from the front four will be a must in this one though. Tillman came away with an interception last Thursday, Chicago’s 25th takeaway of the season, and linebacker Lance Briggs (52 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT) led the club with seven tackles. Chicago is hopeful linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (34 tackles, 1 sack) can play this weekend after he sat out last Thursday’s game with knee soreness.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
Chicago needed a strong defensive effort versus Miami because of an offense that posted just 268 yards and under 20 points despite holding the ball for nearly 38 minutes. Quarterback Jay Cutler (2064 passing yards, 12 TD, 10 INT) threw for 156 yards, but was picked off for the seventh time in his last four games while also getting sacked three times to up his NFL-leading total to 33. Instead, Chicago and its 30th-ranked offense (294.4 YPG) was paced by 135 rushing yards, including 97 from Forte (567 rushing yards, 32 receptions, 7 total TD). The running back had his highest rushing yards total since Week 5 and just missed out on his second 100-yard rushing game of the season. Wide receiver Johnny Knox (37 receptions, 1 TD) led the team with five catches and 55 yards, while wideout Devin Hester (28 receptions, 2 TD) and tight end Greg Olsen (28 receptions, 4 TD) made four catches each for a combined 81 yards. Chicago’s offense is averaging just 19.1 PPG and is just slightly over that mark over its last three games with a 21.7 PPG average. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s system usually leads to a high sack total and the Bears will likely try to keep the Eagles defense honest by using Forte and Chester Taylor (216 rushing yards, 1 TD) as a dual threat on the ground.
There is only one team in the NFL that has more takeaways than the Bears and that is the Eagles. The Birds picked off Manning three times on Sunday and also recovered a pair of fumbles to give them 26 takeaways on the season and a plus-15 turnover ratio. Cornerback Asante Samuel (23 tackles) had two of those picks to up his league-leading total to seven and also recovered a fumble, while linebacker Stewart Bradley (47 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) also came away with a pick. Philadelphia has recorded at least one interception in 13 straight games. Defensive end Darryl Tapp (15 tackles, 2 sacks) recovered Manning’s gift fumble and cornerback Dimitri Patterson (29 tackles, 3 INT) led the way with seven tackles. Philadelphia did not record a sack versus the Giants, but defensive ends Trent Cole (44 tackles, 7 sacks), Brandon Graham (9 tackles, 2 sacks) and Juqua Parker (15 tackles, 5 sacks) should get some chances in this one. Parker, though, missed time in Sunday’s game with a hip flexor that had him limited in practice last week. Overall, the Eagles rank ninth in total defense (313.3 YPG), but are 20th with 22.6 PPG allowed.
Given the Eagles efficiency on offense, it comes as no surprise that the club features several fantasy contributors. Vick is morphing into one of the best options at the QB spot and his ability to run the ball gives him a huge edge over a host of other signal-callers. He can also air it out to Jackson and Maclin with ease, though tight end Brent Celek hasn’t seen much action with Vick under center. McCoy is sometimes limited on the ground, but also racks up a ton of points as a receiving option. The ball-hawking defense is a great play due to Chicago’s inability to score a lot of points, while Akers is 20- for-25 on field goal attempts.
The Bears are on the other side of the coin as many of their offensive weapons are weekly fantasy gambles. Forte is massively inconsistent and is a flex play at best this weekend due to the matchup, while Cutler’s high sack total and interception issues make him shaky. That limits Knox, Hester and Olsen as well. Chicago’s defense is one of the better options, but draws a tough matchup. Gould is 17-for-21 on field goal tries and has hit a pair from longer than 50 yards.
Both of these teams enter this game on quite a roll and feature defenses that force turnovers at a pace more rapid than a Woody Allen filmography. But while both defenses are evenly matched, the Eagles hold a huge advantage on the offensive side of things. Vick has the ability to put any defense on its heels while Philadelphia’s pressure and solid secondary should make things tough for Cutler. The Eagles are also one of the better road teams, sporting a 4-1 mark away from Philly. Philadelphia has given up some big plays defensively this year, but Cutler likely won’t be looking at much time to make things happen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Philadelphia 23, Bears 17
Eagles Sans Asante? : Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel is listed as questionable for Sunday, with an MCL sprain in his knee. He's missed all three days of practice this week. This would be good news for the Bears, as Samuel leads the NFL in interceptions with seven. Also questionable for the Eagles are DE Juqua Parker (hip), and DT Antonio Dixon (abdomen).
The Bears were once again at full strength.
The Best Linebackers? : Brian Urlacher says the Chicago Bears have the league's best linbacking corps,according to Chicago Breaking Sports. "No doubt we have the best. Not even a question in my mind,'' Urlacher said. "I think our whole unit believes that. And it's not just our starting linebackers. If you look at our whole group, we're the best group, top to bottom, no doubt.''
Urlacher and fellow LB Lance Briggs lead all Bears tacklers, with 78 and 70, respectively.
Easier said than done : The question of the week in Chicago has been, 'How do you stop Michael Vick?' LB Pisa Tinoisamoa has the answer, "You just have to attack that dude. You get 11 guys to him. And that's how you stop him.'' So, there you go.
Injury Report : The Bears once again had full participation in practice wednesday, with Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) seeing limited action. They've been fortunate this season in the injury department, remaining relatively healthy this deep into the season.
For the Eagles, defensive end Juqua Parker (hip) and cornerback Asante Samuel (knee) were held out of practice. Cornerback Ellis Hobbs is out for the season, with a neck injury suffered in the New York Giants game
Insult Report :Samuel was fined $40,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on the New York Giants wide receiver Derek Hagan. It's his first fine ever by the NFL, but they're still referring to him as a 'repeat offender'. I watched this hit several times, and I truly can't imagine what Samuels could have done differently in the time and space of this play. He was standing nearly straight up when he made the contact. The league seems to think it can make players reject both their training and normal human reactions.
But there are still some bargains to be had, if you're a defensive player. Punching Ben Roethlisberger in the head is still available for the low, low price of $10,000.
The Mutual Admiration Society : According to the Chicago Sun-Times Andy Reid thinks the Bears are "pretty stinking good", and Jay Cutler thinks Eagles' quarterback is " on a different level". in Chicago Breaking Sports, Cutler discusses Michael Vick, and the importance of balance in the use of Devin Hester in the offensive and return games, "It's kind of a tricky situation because you want him out there on special teams, but you don't want to gas him for the offense, and vice versa: We don't want to gas him on offense and not have him out there on special teams. It's tricky and I think they've done a good job of balancing it so far. I think Devin is comfortable with where he is at in the offense and his ability to return kicks still."
Finally showing the form that prompted the Bears to give him a six-year, $91.5 million free agent contract before this season, Julius Peppers had his best game of the year against the Dolphins in Miami. Peppers had three sacks of Dolphins quarterback Tyler Thigpen, tying a career high. It was the eighth time in his career that Peppers had three sacks in a game, the first time as a Bear, and it was one of the big reasons the Bears shut out the Dolphins 16-0. Peppers now has 86 career sacks, which is tied for 39th place on the NFL all-time list.
Other Bears who have received player of the week honors this season are running back Matt Forte was named NFC offensive player of the week in Week 1, and Devin Hester, who was NFC special teams player of the week in Week 10.
This Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles, led by the resurgent Michael Vick, take on the Chicago Bears and their league leading defense. Something's got to give as the irresistible force of Philly's big scoring offense, meets the immovable object of Rod Marrinelli's shut-down defense.
Every game is a must-win for Chicago, who share the same 7-3 record as their NFC North rivals in Green Bay. The Packers are looking tough as they make their bid for post-season play, beating the Vikings convincingly in Minnesota last Sunday.
Michael Vick's performance against the Washington Redskins, a 59-28 drubbing, is making him a popular candidate for league MVP. It's still way too early to make that call, but Vick's new-found respectability is well-deserved.
And speaking of new-found respectability, a lot of people have started talking about the Chicago Bears, without that air of skepticism that permeated the first half of their season. Their dominant defense, dangerous special teams, and an offense that seems to have marshaled its forces, are making believers the old fashioned way: by winning.
Keep looking right here for all the news and updates for the week leading up to game day. And don't forget that we're here all through game day, bringing you highlights, as they happen.
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