December 18, 2022
On a very cold, windy day in Chicago, the Philadelphia Eagles won ugly over the Bears, but all that matters on their way out of town is that they got to 13-1, drawing nearer to the 1 seed, a first round bye, and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.
Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, and Josh Sweat had two sacks apiece. Reddick now has 12 on the season, Hargrave joined him in the double-digit sack club with 10, and Sweat is a now half-sack away from admission with 9.5. Brandon Graham was shut out today, but with 8.5 sacks, he is 1.5 sacks away from the double digit club. Fletcher Cox is a little bit more of a longshot, but still within reasonable striking distance at six sacks.
No NFL team has ever had four players collect 10 sacks each in a single season.
The cold seemed to affect Hurts early, as he threw two uncharacteristically bad interceptions. He eventually found a groove and went on to throw for 315 yards on the day, while also scoring three touchdowns on the ground.
Hurts said in his postgame press conference that his hands were numb early on, and he had difficulty seeing the field well.
Whatever the case, this was probably Hurts' worst game in a season in which he has not yet had a bad game. And yet, he made his share of big plays and bigtime throws in crucial moments, most notably his deep ball down the field on third down to A.J. Brown to set up a score that put the Eagles up by two touchdowns.
Hurts to Brown for 68 yards! @Eagles— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
📺: #PHIvsCHI on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/mzMHAEtgdH pic.twitter.com/0mx6FRfFdT
Hurts took a lot shots in this game, but he never looked rattled. Asked after the game how he felt physically, Hurts said that he was going to listen to some Anita Baker and have some sweets on the plane ride home.
As for those three rushing touchdowns noted above, Hurts now has 13 on the season. He is one shy of the NFL record for quarterbacks, set by Cam Newton (14) in 2011.
Brown had nine catches for 181 yards, and Smith had five catches for 126 yards. They accounted for 307 of Hurts' 315 passing yards. On a difficult passing day, feed the big dogs.
• Brown now has 74 receptions for 1,201 yards and 10 TDs. He is on pace for 90 catches for 1,458 yards and 12 TDs.
• Smith now has 71 receptions for 901 yards and 5 TDs. He is on pace for 86 catches for 1,094 yards and 6 TDs.
The Eagles have never had two receivers crack a thousand receiving yards in the same season. The last time they even had one was way back in 2014, when Jeremy Maclin did it.
I hate to be the "RUN IT!" guy, especially when we just noted above that Brown and Smith combined for 307 receiving yards, but on such a bitter cold day, it made sense for the Eagles to lean on the run — specifically with the running backs — and control the football. But that didn't seem to be the gameplan.
In the first half, Miles Sanders only carried three times. He ended up with just 11 carries total. Hurts carried 17 times. It's probably not the best idea to have your MVP quarterback running it that much against such an inferior opponent.
Sanders had his first fumble of the season.
Miles Sanders fumble is recovered by the Bears pic.twitter.com/WGNjZMpHWH— DIE-HARD 🦅 Fans (@Eaglesfans9) December 18, 2022
The Eagles survived a game in which they were -2 in the turnover battle.
The Bears had the No. 32 ranked defense in the NFL, by DVOA (31st pass defense, 28th run defense). Offensively, they were without their best running back, their three best receivers, and their starting RG got carted off on their first drive of the game.
The Eagles were lucky that they saved this dud of a game for this bad team.
Justin Fields is a very polarizing player among NFL fans, because he has a long way to go as a passer, but he is so fun to watch with some of the ridiculous things he can do on the field. This dude has nothing around him whatsoever — no O-line, no receivers, no defense to help bail him out if things don't go well offensively, etc. — and yet game after game he does stuff like this:
JUSTIN FIELDS. INCREDIBLE RUN.— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
📺: #PHIvsCHI on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/mzMHAEtgdH pic.twitter.com/lNhAJ8eAWk
We can all at least appreciate that he has some special talent, right?
Dallas lost to Doug Pederson and the Jaguars.
MADNESS IN JACKSONVILLE. WALKOFF PICK-6 FOR THE @JAGUARS. #DALvsJAX pic.twitter.com/ZQrhOLRuIW— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
That means that all the Eagles have to do is win one of their next three games against the Cowboys, Saints, or Giants, and they will clinch (a) the NFC East and (b) the 1 seed.
Of course, the Eagles' upcoming matchup against the Cowboys doesn't mean anywhere near as much as it would have if Dallas had held serve, but somehow I think you're all fine with that.
It's less a matter of "if" the Eagles will clinch the 1-seed, and now more a matter of "when." The sooner they take care of business, the sooner their weary bodies can get a break.
And along the way, there will be reinforcements like Dallas Goedert, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Reed Blankenship, and if you're into Arryn Siposs, him too.
The Eagles could be in an extremely unique position this time next week in which they will have the option of resting starters for the final two weeks of the regular season, before also getting a week off on their first-round bye. That will be a fun debate if/when we get there, but there isn't another team in the NFL in as enviable a position as the Eagles right now.
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