Guest of the League
Aurelio Sanchez Memorial League Est. 2007
FFL: Playoff Week 2 | NFL: Week 15

After big jump, Bears look to KO defending champion Eagles

Sat Jan 5 12:41pm ET
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer

Players: Darren Sproles, Nick Foles, Alshon Jeffery, Trey Burton, Jay Ajayi, Carson Wentz, Wendell Smallwood, Mitch Trubisky, Corey Clement, Josh Adams

FILE- In this Dec. 16, 2018, file photo, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy watches the action from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Chicago. After winning the NFC North, the Bears host the Philadelphia Eagles in a wild card game packed with story lines on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)


In this Dec. 23, 2018, file photo, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson stands on the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Philadelphia. After winning the NFC North, the Chicago Bears host the Eagles in a wild card game packed with story lines on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Perez, File)


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Not long after he was hired, Matt Nagy watched the Super Bowl with his wife at a bar near the Chicago Bears' practice facility. His good friend Doug Pederson was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship.

The place was just about empty. He even had to ask for the game to be turned on.

''It was awesome,'' he recalled.

Nagy hopes things don't go so well for his pal when the NFC North champion Bears host the Eagles on Sunday in a wild-card game packed with storylines.

Chicago (12-4) is in the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 team won the division, making a huge jump in Nagy's first season after four straight last-place finishes. The Bears are on a 9-1 tear; the Eagles (9-7) have won five of six.

Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will make his first playoff appearance.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles - last year's Super Bowl MVP - will try to deliver another standout performance while filling in for Carson Wentz. He's 6-0 in those situations the past two seasons.

Foles was particularly good the past three games with Wentz sidelined by a back injury. He tied Philip Rivers' NFL record in last week's win over Washington by completing 25 consecutive passes. He will start this one after leaving with a chest injury against the Redskins.

Alshon Jeffery will play in Chicago for the first time since the star receiver left the Bears after five seasons to sign with Philadelphia in 2017. Chicago's Trey Burton will try to beat the Eagles this time after throwing a touchdown to Foles on a trick play - ''Philly Special'' - in the Super Bowl victory over New England.

There will be Long brothers - Chicago guard Kyle and Philadelphia defensive end Chris - on opposing teams.

And there will be two coaches on opposite sidelines with a strong bond formed while working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

''I told him at the owners meeting this past offseason, he got that Super Bowl, right. I'm trying to follow his lead here,'' Nagy said. ''He probably doesn't want to hear that right now, but I want to stick on that path. Ton of respect for him.''

The feeling is mutual.

''Right away, you (could) tell that he was going to work himself up the ranks,'' Pederson said.

Some things to know:

NO-NAME SECONDARY: The Eagles have relied on backups and reserves after losing three-fourths of their starting secondary to season-ending injuries. Second-year pro Rasul Douglas and rookie Avonte Maddox have stepped up at cornerback since starters Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills went down. Veteran Corey Graham replaced safety Rodney McLeod. Maddox even played safety when Graham was out. Second-year pro Tre Sullivan also has filled in at safety and former Bears defensive back Cre'Von LeBlanc has played nickel cornerback with Sidney Jones out of the lineup. The group has improved significantly the past month.

''They've both settled into those roles well and they've made enough plays for us to win five of our last six and get in,'' defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said of LeBlanc and Sullivan.

Douglas, who played just 10 snaps in the first five games, led the team with three interceptions.

The anchor in the secondary is Malcolm Jenkins, who played every defensive snap and another 136 on special teams.

ON TARGET: Like Foles, Trubisky is on a roll .

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, he threw three interceptions in a 15-6 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 9 after missing the previous two games because of a shoulder injury. Since then, he's been making all the right reads.

Trubisky has a 109.7 rating the past three games, completing 63 of 83 passes for 644 and three touchdowns without an interception.

BACKFIELD BY COMMITTEE: After relying on undrafted rookie Josh Adams for a bulk of the carries following season-ending injuries to Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement, the Eagles are splitting the ball carrying among Adams, veteran Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Adams ran 11 times for 50 yards last week. Smallwood was 12 for 53 and Sproles had seven for 24.

MOVING ON?: Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio insisted he was preparing only for the Eagles, not any head coaching interviews.

''I've done zero on that second part,'' he said.

The 60-year-old Fangio never has been a head coach. But he has interviewed for several openings, including the one that went to Nagy in Chicago.

In his four seasons with the Bears, Fangio has transformed a defense that ranked among the worst in team history. The Monsters of the Midway led the NFL in rushing defense, takeaways (36) and interceptions (27) while tying for third in sacks (50).

THE TURNAROUND: The Bears posted their best record since the 2006 team went 13-3 on the way to a Super Bowl appearance. Nagy won more games than any other rookie coach in franchise history, after John Fox led Chicago to a 14-34 record over the previous three seasons. The Bears also went 7-1 at home compared with 7-17 under Fox.

Player Notes
Marquise Goodwin Dec 10 5:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a knee injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

From TheHuddle

Demaryius Thomas Dec 10 5:23pm ET

New York Jets S Jamal Adams (ankle), OT Chuma Edoga (knee), TE Ryan Griffin (ankle), CB Arthur Maulet (calf), CB Brian Poole (concussion), RB Bilal Powell (ankle, illness), WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) and DL Quinnen Williams (neck) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 10. OT Kelvin Beachum (ankles), S Matthias Farley (ankle), DL Steve McLendon (knee, hip), RB Ty Montgomery (foot, hip) and DL Nathan Shepherd (ankle) were limited. RB Le'Veon Bell (illness), CB Maurice Canady (shoulder), OL Tom Compton (ankle), QB Sam Darnold (knee, thumb), QB David Fales (elbow) and LB Paul Worrilow (quad) participated in full.

From TheHuddle

Mark Ingram Dec 10 5:13pm ET

Baltimore Ravens LB Chris Board (concussion), DB Anthony Levine (ankle), OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion), RB Mark Ingram (non-injury), S Earl Thomas (non-injury) and DT Brandon Williams (non-injury) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 10. TE Mark Andrews (knee), QB Lamar Jackson (quad) and DE Jihad Ward (elbow) were limited.

From TheHuddle

Calvin Ridley Dec 10 4:53pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (abdominal) and CB Desmond Trufant (forearm) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Tuesday, Dec. 10. LB Ahmad Thomas was signed to the active roster, while TE Carson Meier and LB Quentin Poling were added to the practice squad.

From TheHuddle

Alshon Jeffery Dec 10 4:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (foot) is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury he suffered in Week 14 against the New York Giants, according to a source. The team is still reportedly gathering opinions about the exact injury, however.

Fantasy Spin: This injury wraps up yet another injury-shortened season for the 29-year-old, who has played a full season once in the last five years - averaging only 12 games over that span. Jeffrey is still due $12.75 million over each of the final two years of his deal, so he's probably not going anywhere this offseason. With Nelson Agholor also ailing, the Eagles could be forced to finish the season with Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and a few practice squad players at the position.

From TheHuddle

Rodney Gunter Dec 10 4:33pm ET

Arizona Cardinals DL Rodney Gunter (toe) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a toe injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10. DL Caraun Reid (Cardinals) was re-signed to an undisclosed contract to replace him on the roster after getting released over the weekend.

From TheHuddle

Simeon Thomas Dec 10 4:23pm ET

Washington Redskins CB Simeon Thomas was handed a four-game suspension by the NFL on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for violating the league's policy and program on substances of abuse.

From TheHuddle

Marvin Jones Dec 10 4:23pm ET

Detroit Lions WR Marvin Jones (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with an ankle injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Fantasy Spin: The hits just keep coming for Detroit, which figures to lean on Kenny Golladay even more the rest of the way. Danny Amendola should also see more targets as well.

From TheHuddle

Auden Tate Dec 10 3:40pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate (knee) was placed on the injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season. Tate sustained a mild MCL sprain in his left knee in the third quarter of the teams Week 14 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Damion Willis was promoted to the active roster in a corresponding roster move. Tate took advantage of all the injuries to the Bengals receiving corps this season, racking up a career-high 40 catches for 575 yards and one touchdown, and is a worthy hold in dynasty leagues heading into his third season.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Dec 10 3:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp played only 20 of a possible 68 snaps in Week 14 versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Fantasy Spin: By comparison, Kupp logged 57 snaps in Week 13. Head coach Sean McVay defended the move by suggesting it was the cost of doing business in order to establish some offensive balance on early downs. However, the flaw in that reasoning is that Kupp's playing time should not be cut in favor of backup tight end Johnny Mundt. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks didn't make a catch in his 61 snaps. Expect Kupp to return to his normal snap count in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys.

From TheHuddle

Jamar Taylor Dec 10 3:13pm ET

Free-agent CB Jamar Taylor (Seahawks) signed an undisclosed contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

From TheHuddle

Le'Veon Bell Dec 10 3:03pm ET

New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell is among the players the team is expected to make available via trade this offseason, according to sources.

Fantasy Spin: Bell is averaging only 49.1 yards rushing behind one of the league's worst offensive lines in his first season with the Jets, and it is becoming increasingly clear head coach Adam Gase either can't find a way to keep him involved in the offense or doesn't want to. A trade will be hard to accomplish as well, as the Jets would take a $15.5 million cap hit if they deal him and his hypothetical new team would have to find a way to fit one of the larger contracts at his position onto the roster.

From TheHuddle

Auden Tate Dec 10 2:53pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals WR Auden Tate (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a sprained left medial collateral ligament Tuesday, Dec. 10. WR Damion Willis was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.

Fantasy Spin: Tate's emergence was probably the best thing to happen to the Bengals in an otherwise lost season. Assuming A.J. Green re-signs with the team in the offseason, Tate will probably push John Ross for the other starting outside job while Tyler Boyd remains the main slot receiver. Tate, who finishes this season with 40 catches for 575 yards and a touchdown, should be considered a solid late-round flier next summer in fantasy drafts.

From TheHuddle

Cedrick Wilson Dec 10 2:43pm ET

Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Dec. 10. OT Mitch Hyatt was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.

From TheHuddle

Parris Campbell Dec 10 2:40pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (foot) has been placed on Injured Reserve ending his season. It's an unfortunate, yet fitting, end to the rookie's season having battled injuries to his hamstring, abdomen, and a broken hand before a fractured foot put him on season-ending IR. Campbell finishes his rookie season with 18 catches for 127 yards and one touchdown. The Colts are still unsure of T.Y. Hilton's (calf) status for their Monday night game vs New Orleans, but it's looking increasingly likely Hilton misses the game. Assuming Hilton is out, Zach Pascal has interesting WR3 value with Marcus Johnson also in the mix in deeper fantasy leagues.

From RotoBaller

James Conner Dec 10 2:30pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expecting to get wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and running back James Conner (shoulder) back in time for their Week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills. Neither has played since getting injured against the Cleveland Browns in Week 11. Both players are expected to practice this week in what would be a big boost to the Pittsburgh offense as the team looks to remain in the playoff picture. Conner's return would come at an especially good time as Jaylen Samuels is looking questionable for this weekend with a groin injury. That being said, fantasy GMs need to temper their expectations for both players as the Bills have been stout on defense this season.

From RotoBaller

Calvin Ridley Dec 10 2:20pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (abdomen) will be out for the remainder of the season after suffering an abdominal injury during the first half of Week 14's win over the Carolina Panthers. Ridley had a big game before the injury, catching five balls for 76 yards and a touchdown but went down before halftime and was unable to stand on his own. He was carted off the field and looked to be in significant pain. With Ridley out look for Russell Gage to slide in as the No. 2 receiver in Atlanta opposite Julio Jones. Gage is worth a look as a flex play in fantasy leagues going forward.

From RotoBaller

Bilal Powell Dec 10 2:20pm ET

New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (ankle, illness) is not expected to play Thursday night at Baltimore. Powell, who was filling in for Le'Veon Bell (illness) injured his ankle at the end of the Jets Week 14 win over the Dolphins. Powell is also apparently dealing with the flu but head coach Adam Gase said the ankle is the bigger concern right now. Powell is yet to officially be ruled out, but all signs are pointing to him not suiting up this week. The good news for New York is Bell is reportedly close to 100 percent and should reclaim his starting role with Ty Montgomery working as a change of pace back. Powell can safely be dropped by those that picked him up for the Miami game.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Chark Dec 10 2:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (ankle) was spotted in a walking boot on Monday and left the locker room using a scooter. Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Chark is "week-to-week" with the injury, which puts the remainder of his season in jeopardy. Chark broke out in a big way for Jacksonville in 2019, catching 67 balls for 956 yards and eight touchdowns. With Chark sidelined, look for Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and Keelan Cole to all see more chances within the Jacksonville passing attack.

From RotoBaller

Vance McDonald Dec 10 2:03pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Vance McDonald (concussion) is in the concussion protocol following the Week 14 game.

From TheHuddle