Both the Bears and the Eagles come into Wildcard weekend firing on all cylinders but Matthew Crist believes Chicago have what it takes to progress...
"Anyone who remembers Chicago’s 1985 side that went on to win Super Bowl XX will know just how valuable a strong defence can be and combined with a pretty impressive attacking unit just like 30-odd years ago, this Bear’s side might be a tough nut to crack."
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears
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Case for the Bears defence
The final game of Wild Card Weekend kicks off on Sunday evening when the Philadelphia Eagles travel to Chicago to face an impressive Bears outfit in what might just be the pick of the playoff fixtures so far.
The Bears come into this fixture in a red hot run of form winning four games on the spin to clinch their first NFC North title since 2012 mostly thanks to their incredibly mean defence.
The Chicago D has allowed just 17.7 points per game, the fewest in the league during the regular season, making 50 sacks, while its 27 interceptions are six more than any other team made during the campaign and it's worth noting that the Bears only lost their 4 games during the regular season by a combined total of just 14 points.
With Linebacker Khalil Mack contributing with 12.5 sacks and corner Kyle Fuller offering seven interceptions - a joint NFL best this season - it's evident that the quality runs deep throughout this team.
But as well as a solid back-line the Bears also offer plenty when it comes to offence with Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky throwing for 24 touchdowns in 14 games and they also boast a pretty impressive run game, led by running back Jordan Howard's 935 yards and nine TDs for the season.
There was a slight blip when Trubisky missed a couple of games with a shoulder injury but that ultimately didn't cost them dear and assuming he stays healthy there's no reason to suggest his impressive form will end anytime soon.
Anyone who remembers Chicago's 1985 side that went on to win Super Bowl XX will know just how valuable a strong defence can be and combined with an effective offensive unit, just like 30-odd years ago, this Bear's side might just be a tough nut to crack.
Foles gold again for Philly
Philadelphia come into Sunday's showdown on the back of three consecutive victories largely thanks to backup quarterback Nick Foles who has revitalised the Eagles offence just as he did 12 months ago.
Towards the end of last season Foles led his side to the Vince Lombardi trophy and even picked up the MVP in the Super Bowl and you could be forgiven for thinking that lightning might strike twice based on recent performances.
In their last three matches alone the Eagles have averaged over 28 points and 420 yards per game including an astonishing 471 in the 32-30 win over the Houston Texans - the most passing yards ever by a quarterback in franchise history.
However, like the Bears, Philadelphia has managed to combine both defensive and offensive qualities in order to forge an impressive all-round unit which is paying dividends just when it matters.
That's because The Eagles' defence has allowed under 18 points per game during their three game winning streak, and have given-up just two passing touchdowns during that run too.
The trio of Fletcher Cox, Chris Long and Michael Bennett have combined to total 44 sacks in the regular season and as a unit they are sure to instil any opposing QB with fear as once again the Eagles look to make a late surge for Super Bowl glory.
With both sides coming into this fixture in such fine form it could almost come down to the toss of a coin as to who you back to progress, especially with both offering so much in defence and offense.
The Bears are favoured by 6.5 points on the Handicap betting and that sounds about right to me at 2.0421/20 on the Exchange but with a potentially close encounter such as this you might have to look around for a bit of value.
Rather than looking at the total points line of 46, maybe consider taking a punt on the Tri-Bet market for Either team to win by 3 points or less at 16/5 because I really do expect this one to be that tight.
For a touchdown bet, Jordan Howard has 9 TDs to his name during the regular season, so at 5/1 on the Sportsbook is a decent Bears option to get on the board first while for the Eagles the smart money might be to back Zach Ertz to score anytime at 7/5.
But seeing as this matchup features two quarterbacks in fine form how about backing Mitchell Trubisky to make 21.5 pass completions or more at Evs while if you think Nick Foles will keep up his impressive run he's 10/11 to make more than 252.5 passing yards.