The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles needed some help to get into the playoffs, so Head Coach Doug Pederson put in the call to his good friend Matt Nagy, and the Chicago Bears did the rest.
On a day where all the Minnesota Vikings needed to do was win to get in, the Bears dashed their playoff dreams with a resounding 24-10 win. And with that victory, combined with Philadelphia’s triumph against Washington, the Wild-Card Weekend showdown between the Bears and Eagles is set. To say these two teams met last year would be technically true, but also not all that accurate. The Bears aren’t the hapless bunch they were when they stumbled out of Philadelphia last year, while the Eagles aren’t the dominant group they were en route to a Super Bowl victory. We have a lot to unpack between now and when that game kicks off and we plan on getting to all of it.
But before then, we should touch upon what was a thorough Bears’ victory. Chicago’s defense opened up with a three-and-out and its offense followed by delivering early hay-makers in the ground game with Jordan Howard carrying the load. Howard punched in an early touchdown and the Bears never looked back. Sure, this game had its chest-clenching moments. Cody Parkey missed an extra point. Anthony Miller left the game with a shoulder injury. And the Vikings rallied to make it a three-point game thanks in part to some untimely penalties.
And yet … it’s not as if this game was in doubt. Not with the Bears defense bringing relentless pressure. Not with Mitch Trubisky firing darts to keep drives alive. Not with Nagy saying he was going to play to win and actually going through with it and leading his team to finish in a way we didn’t think was possible when Week 1 ended.
The Bears are only days away from hosting a playoff game at Soldier Field. And the storylines running around in our head are the stuff dreams are made of if you’re a fan of that sort of thing. It’s Nagy vs. Pederson in a duel of top Andy Reid assistants. Alshon Jeffery and Cre’von LeBlanc going up against their former teammates, while Trey Burton goes up against guys who he helped win a Super Bowl. Will it be Nick Foles or Carson Wentz under center when the Eagles offense takes the field? Is it going to be Kyle Long or Chris Long getting the upper-hand in a battle of brothers? Didn’t Buddy Ryan coach both for both of these franchise? There is so much good stuff and I can hardly contain myself.
Chicago and Philadelphia haven’t played in the postseason since 2002 when the Eagles eliminated the Bears in a one-sided 33-19 win that closed out the old Soldier Field. But that’s ancient history and the present is looking mighty fine at the moment. Soak it all in while you still can because it’s a glorious day. The Bears are in the playoffs after a season in which they eliminated the Packers and Vikings after both teams were Super Bowl favorites entering the year. It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
Soon it will be time to get down to business. Bear. Down.