MNF Matchup: Bears @ EaglesMonday, November 07, 2011
Monday Night Football
Chicago @ Philadelphia
With his offensive line and supporting cast healthy, Michael Vick returned from his Week 7 bye looking like the most confident football player in the league. Before taking the pedal off the gas in the final two quarters of Week 8, Vick doused the Cowboys with 187 first-half yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-17 passing, along with 45 yards rushing. For the season's final nine games, there isn't a quarterback I'd rather own in fantasy football. Chicago ranks 28th against the pass and is tied for 27th in sacks, so this is a favorable matchup for Vick at home. ... The Bears' Cover-2 defense is designed to contain deep threats like DeSean Jackson, although he's racked up more than 100 all-purpose yards in 2-of-3 career meetings with Chicago, to go with two scores. While D-Jax is arguably the NFL's most boom-or-bust fantasy receiver, his week-to-week ceiling makes him impossible to bench. ... Easily the most consistent wideout on the Eagles, Jeremy Maclin is the No. 11 overall receiver in fantasy points per game. Maclin also leads Philly in targets on the season, suggesting he's quietly overtaken Jackson as Vick's No. 1 option in the passing game.
Fantasy owners should have trouble trusting Brent Celek as a fantasy starter despite back-to-back productive games (4-42-1, 7-94-1). It's an issue of middling talent with Celek, and he's only the fourth or fifth option in Philadelphia's aggressive passing attack. If there is a team against which Celek can stay hot for another week, however, it's probably the Bears. Chicago's zone defense has been burned for productive games by Jermichael Finley (7-85-3), Greg Olsen (5-50-1), Brandon Pettigrew (4-39-1), Jimmy Graham (6-79), and Tony Gonzalez (5-72) at the tight end position, giving up lots of cushion over the middle. ... The Eagles lead the NFC in time of possession, a stat that benefits LeSean McCoy more than any player. Usually pass-happy coach Andy Reid's offense is as balanced as it's ever been. Whereas Philly ran the football on only 43.3% of its plays last year, the percentage has jumped to 47.1 this year, and the Eagles rank fourth in the NFL in rushing attempts. The No. 2-ranked running back in fantasy, McCoy is on pace for career highs in carries (309), rushing yards (1,724), all-purpose touchdowns (23), and yards per rushing attempt (5.59). And barring injury, McCoy is playing too well for those numbers to sharply regress. ... Slot receiver Jason Avant had eight catches for 83 yards in the Eagles' 2010 matchup with the Bears. Avant lacks playmaking ability and hasn't scored a touchdown on the year, but could be good for 4-6 catches on Monday night, even if they only go for 45-60 yards. It's not terrible PPR production.
The Eagles' defense has flashed competitiveness against the run by stiffening its Wide-9 scheme in the front four. It still got touched up for an 8.5 yards-per-carry average by Cowboys rushers last week, and Matt Forte has confirmed himself matchup proof with at least 120 yards in previous 2011 clashes with the top-seven run defenses of Atlanta and Minnesota. In terms of YPC allowed, the Eagles have the fifth-worst defense in football. Forte will continue to be his offense's centerpiece on Monday night. ... The Bears seemed to remedy their pass protection problems before the Week 8 bye, but they'll be put to a major test at The Linc. Philadelphia entered Week 9 ranked sixth in the league in sacks, and Nnamdi Asomugha has picked it up since a slow start. The Eagles essentially took Dez Bryant (3-28) and Miles Austin (3-27) out of last week's game with physical press coverage and an attacking mentality up front. On paper at least, this is a mismatch for the Bears' passing offense. Jay Cutler is a QB2 against Philly's top-ten pass defense, and Roy Williams is unlikely to create separation with Asomugha in his face at the line. Devin Hester and Earl Bennett remain uninspiring week-to-week options. Bennett's return from a chest injury will render Dane Sanzenbacher a fourth receiver. Johnny Knox is now in a rotation with Williams.
Score Prediction: Eagles 34, Bears 13