Eagles Stock Market: Expected Lull Doesn’t Impact Bottom Line vs. Bears

CHICAGO – It wasn’t worthy of the Art Institute of Chicago but the Eagles persevered at Soldier Field, with big plays in the passing game and the usual game-changers in big spots by Jalen Hurts to top the Bears 25-20.The Dallas The Cowboys couldn’t say the same, losing a 17-point lead against Jacksonville to fall 40-34 in overtime on a pick-six thrown by Dak Prescott. That means the Eagles have a three-game lead with three to play in the NFC East and will lock up the division and home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs if they are able to beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Christmas Eve. Even with a performance that Lane Johnson called “a sloppy-ass game,” there were far more positives than negatives for Philadelphia, which moved to a league-best 13-1. THE BULLSTHE PASS RUSH – Yes, part of it was Justin Fields’ ridiculously poor pocket presence but it’s not like the young Bears QB is the only one the Philadelphia defense has done this to. The Eagles had six sacks (two each by Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Javon Hargrave) and have 55 on the season, closing in on the franchise record of 62 in 1989. They have had five or more in three consecutive games for the first time. time since 1997. BOSTON SCOTT AS KICKOFF RETURNER – After a 66-yard kickoff return against the New York Giants last week, Scott took one back 58 yards to start the second half. The short field contributed to a 42-tard TD drive that culminated with a one-yard Hurts’ TD run. THE DEFERRAL- A lot of fans wonder why most teams consistently defer when winning the opening coin toss. You saw it Sunday when Philadelphia essentially sandwiched the second and third quarters with TD drives, a big key to the win. THE HUMAN-NATURE GAME – Like most coaches, Nick Sirianni doesn’t like the term trap game so the effort here is to try to rebrand it as a human-nature game. With Dallas on the horizon on Christmas Eve and the Bears coming in with the worst record in the NFC, this was a natural spot to kind of mail it in at times and the Eagles certainly did that for stretches. JALEN HURTS’ MINDSET – Hurts didn’t have his best day throwing the football but he doesn’t carry poor plays forward, something that allows the MVP candidate to make big plays even when he doesn’t look like it’s his day. Hurts has become like an ace pitcher that can get you deep in games and in a position to win even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. His deep throws in the bucket to AJ Brown, including a 68-yarder that set up the final Philadelphia TD that proved to be the margin of victory, plus his three rushing TDs means you can never drop your guard as a defense if Hurts is the opposing QB. THE BEARSBALL SECURITY – Two Hurts interceptions and Miles Sanders’ first fumble of the season put the Eagles at a minus-three in the game before Haason Reddick got one back (and ultimately he should get credit for the forced fumble that Velus Jones coughed up rather than TJ Edwards). The early miscues for Philadelphia are the kind of uncharacteristic outlier that needed to happen to keep the talent-deficient Bears in the game. The Eagles led the NFL with a plus-14 turnover ratio coming into the game. THE WEATHER – Bears hibernate in this kind of weather for a reason and it was a Chicago-level cold that many of the Eagles, including Hurts, remarked was crazy Hurts debated using a glove on his throwing hand pre-game because he was getting numb but ultimately scrapped it. When reminded that Philadelphia can get very cold in January, Hurts simply scoffed “It’s not Chicago.” -John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com’s Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,’ streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show “Football 24/7” and a daily contributor to ESPN South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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