For much of the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) floundered. After a Week 5 loss to Buffalo dropped them to 1-4, the Eagles— who had been tagged coming into the season as the NFL's "Dream Team"— were the embarrassment of the league. Well, things change pretty quickly in football, and after treating the Dallas Cowboys like speed bumps in a 34-7 victory this past Sunday night, the Eagles hype machine is back in full force, and with good reason.
The Eagles will head into their Week 9 match up vs. the Chicago Bears (4-3) looking to inch closer to the NFC East division lead. The Bears will enter the game not only trying to keep their playoff hopes firmly intact, but to prove to themselves, their fans and the rest of the NFL that they can beat an elite team. The Bears' four wins in 2011 have come against Atlanta, Carolina, Minnesota and Tampa Bay; of those four teams, two are NFC bottom feeders and two are in the middle of the conference pack. The Bears' three losses have come against New Orleans, Green Bay and Detroit, three of the NFL's elite teams, and the type of opponent that will have to be defeated in the playoffs in order to make the Super Bowl.
One of the positives for the Bears going into Week 9 is that their depleted, often embarrassing, offensive line will be facing one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL, having given up exactly five yards a carry on the year, which should help RB Matt Forte in his crusade to become the most underpaid player in the NFL.
But, not all that glitters is gold. Right behind the Eagles in yards per carry allowed is the Bears, who have given up 5.2 yards per carry on the season. And while Forte is great, he's been no LeSean McCoy in 2011. No running back has, and no team has rushed the ball better than the Eagles, whose one-two punch of McCoy and Michael Vick has been unparalleled on the ground in 2011. If the Bears want to enter the conversation of the NFC's elite, they need to leave Philadelphia with a victory. And for that to happen, they need to keep McCoy and Vick bottled up.
For more on the Bears head over to Windy City Gridiron. For more on the Eagles, check out Bleeding Green Nation. Follow the rest of Week 9 at SB Nation NFL.