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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears

Oddsmakers currently have the Eagles listed as 3-point favorites versus the Bears, while the game's total is sitting at 40.

The Eagles defeated Pittsburgh 15-6 as a 3.5-point favorite in Week 3. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (45).

Donovan McNabb passed for 196 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Philadelphia, while Correll Buckhalter rushed for 43 yards on 10 carries and caught six passes for 44 yards with a touchdown.

The Bears lost to Tampa Bay 27-24 in overtime as a 3-point favorite in Week 3. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (35).

Kyle Orton had 268 passing yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Chicago, while Brandon Lloyd had six receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.

Current streak:
Chicago has lost 2 straight games.

Team records:
Philadelphia: 2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS
Chicago: 1-2 SU, 1-1-1 ATS

Philadelphia most recently:
When playing in September are 5-5
When playing on grass are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing outside the division are 7-3

Chicago most recently:
When playing in September are 5-5
When playing on grass are 5-5
After being outgained are 5-5
When playing outside the division are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
Philadelphia is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
Philadelphia is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Philadelphia is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Philadelphia's last 6 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Chicago's last 5 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Chicago's last 5 games when playing Philadelphia
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Chicago's last 8 games when playing at home against Philadelphia
Chicago is 8-4 ATS in its last 12 games when playing Philadelphia

Next up:
Philadelphia home to Washington, Sunday, October 5
Chicago at Detroit, Sunday, October 5

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Eagles-Bears SNF Preview
By Josh Jacobs

If there’s a team hungry for a home win then Chicago (1-2 straight up, 1-1-1 against the spread) is a prime candidate. The Bears are hoping that a bounce back win against the banged up Eagles (2-1 SU, 3-0-0 ATS) will prove reality over dream.

It was last week that Chicago found itself behind 14-9 heading into the half against Tampa Bay. The Bears responded by taking a 24-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter. However, Brian Griese rallied the Bucs to force overtime. They won in the extra session on a short kick by Matt Bryant that handed the Bears their second loss of the season and the first ‘L’ at home. Most books had closed Chicago as a three-point favorite, while the total of 34 ½ found itself going ‘over’.

We’re now left surmising what the Bears must do to grab a home win versus a very capable Philadelphia team.

The Eagles left the starting gate in the first game of the season by piling on 38 points against the Rams only to find themselves out gunned by Dallas (41-37) in Week 2. When you look exclusively at the stat sheet and discover that safety Quintin Mikell leads Philly with 24 tackles you know either there was or continues to be a problem in the secondary.

While allowing a decent 196.3 YPG through the air, the Eagles have faltered by giving the opposing quarterback time to build on an 84.5 QB rating. That’s not to say that the front seven haven’t done their part. Philadelphia is actually tied for first in the NFL with 13 sacks on the season (tied with the New York Giants). This is important because in the last six head-to-head games with Chicago, the Eagles are 5-1 SU and 3-3 ATS, allowing their opponent to score less then 20 points in all six of those contests. That’s also translated into the ‘under’ going 7-3 in the last 10 meetings with the Bears.

With Philly’s QB Donovan McNabb throwing for 838 yards with five TDs so far in ’08, concern over a chest contusion and his status for Sunday’s game has been downplayed by coach Andy Reid. However leading rusher Brian Westbrook missed practice for the third straight day on Friday with an ankle injury. His status remains in the air prior to game time.

Down on the Bears’ bench, questions circulating around signal caller Kyle Orton and his ability to sustain drives against a Philadelphia defense that held Pittsburgh to just six points last week should be on the mind of all gamblers out there. Orton began the first two weeks of the season without turning the ball over. But that all ended in Week 3 when the Purdue grad was exposed for two interceptions and six scrambles out of the pocket which morphed into running plays. This was a QB on the run, pressured into making mistakes that we hadn’t seen until last week’s defeat. You can bet your bottom dollar that Orton has been watching film of the Eagles’ pass attack with a bit of uncertainty in his own ability to counter.

And this takes us full circle to the Bears’ weakest part of their depth chart, the wide receiver core. Ranked 17th in the NFL at 174.7 YPG through the air, leading wide outs Brandon Lloyd and Matt Forte (who’s Chicago’s No. 1 running back) have combined to produce just 321 receiving yards with a skimp two trips across the goal line. Next in the statistical line is Desmond Clark with six catches for 75 yards.

Complicating matters is the Bears’ 4-10 ATS record in their last 14 home stands and a 1-6-1 ATS slide in their last eight contests played in September.

With most books listing a low total of 39 ½, take a look at the ‘over’ which is 20-6-1 in Chicago’s last 27 games versus NFC teams and a 16-5 frequency in their last 21 home games.

With the Eagles tough defensive stand against the Steelers last week (especially after giving up 41 points in Dallas), all arrows point to a good chance of an upset in the Windy City yet again. Of course this is all hypothetical and paper driven stats we’re looking at here but to say that Philadelphia isn’t off to a good start would be starving the team of the credit it deserves.

Several questions linger before game time: if the Eagles RB Westbrook doesn’t suit up, will his absence have a domino affect on the rest of the game plan? Can Philly’s McNabb make the plays against a Chicago defense that's fallen on its face by allowing 249.7 YPG through the air? And will Chicago's Orton find himself forcing passes for turnovers for a second straight week?

All of these questions will be answered at 8:15 p.m. EDT on NBC.

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Sunday Night Dinner: Eagles at Bears

Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (+3, 40½)

The home-underdog (usually a golden phrase) Bears looked so good in the opening win at Indianapolis and then blew their last two games in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles have been without their star quarterback and running back all week in practice, with Donovan McNabb expected to play and Brian Westbrook a game-time decision.

But there’s no need to wait until the last second. Grab a beer and listen up:

Philadelphia is off to a 2-1 start following last Sunday's 15-6 victory over Pittsburgh. After taking a back seat to the offense in Week 2 against the Cowboys, the Eagles’ defense took center stage sacking Ben Roethlisberger nine times and allowing 180 total yards.

McNabb sat out a portion of the game after suffering a chest contusion in the first half, but like we said, he is expected to play. Westbrook, meanwhile, sprained his right ankle and will almost certainly see a reduced role if he does suit up.

The Eagles have also won five-straight games at Soldier Field, but that doesn’t mean anything, does it?

Bettors shouldn’t ignore the fact Philly held Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker to 20 yards in 13 carries and now gets ready for Chicago rookie Matt Forte.

Forte has 409 yards from scrimmage including his 50-yard, bet busting, TD dash against Indy in Week 1.

The no-name stars of the Eagles defense -- defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley and linebackers Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither and Chris Gocong -- form the No. 1 run defense in the NFL. The unit is allowing just 45.7 rushing yards per game and 2.4 yards per carry.

The Bears rely on Forte more than they originally planned. He leads the NFL in rushing attempts with 73 (for 304 yards and a 4.2-yard average), which, over the course of an entire season, works out to 389 carries (and 1,621 yards). The Redskins' Clinton Portis led the league with 325 last year. Chicago’s franchise record is 381, by Walter Payton in 1984.

They’re killing the kid.

Lovie Smith leans on Forte so much because he doesn’t trust quarterback Kyle Orton enough to put the game on his arm.
It must be some pep talk when Smith pulls him aside and says, “Please don’t lose the game for us.”

Devin Hester is banged up and his transition to receiver has been a little timid, while tight end Greg Olsen is fumbling everything he touches.

So, you can see Orton is handcuffed - to put it mildly.

The Eagles’ plan is to stop the run and then blitz Orton like crazy. Forte might actually be more dangerous catching the ball than running it. Of course, the Bears’ conservative thinking might be scrapped if the Eagles and McNabb get out to a good-sized lead.

McNabb is playing well, throwing for 838 yards and five touchdowns and developing a quick chemistry with rookie receiver DeSean Jackson.

“To me, he's the old Donovan McNabb,” Smith said. “A guy that's mobile, good size, you have to really wrap him up to bring him down. He has as strong an arm as anybody around.

“He's playing with a lot of confidence. He's the reason why they're moving the ball down the field the way that they're doing on everyone and putting up a lot of points.”

McNabb is prepared to throw more often than usual if Westbrook can’t go (though backup RB Cornell Buckhalter is no slouch). I’m sure he’s seen the film of Brian Griese throwing 67 times in Tampa Bay’s win over Chicago.

“If it has to go that way, then you have to be ready to roll,” McNabb said.

I don’t think he’ll reach 50 pass attempts; just enough to give the Eagles the cover and the over. And me a little indigestion after you buy me a cheesesteak for breaking this down for you.

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