Old Saint Nick may actually look like the part on Sunday.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles plans on wearing some extra padding to protect his bruised and battered ribs when he and his teammates take the field to play the Chicago Bears on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. While that extra padding may not make him look too much like the jolly man from the North Pole, it doesn’t mean he can’t deliver more magic to an Eagles season that looked dead and buried just days before Thanksgiving following a 48-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints that left them at 4-6.
Foles was unable to finish last week’s shutout win over the Washington Redskins after taking a shot to his already ailing ribs from Ryan Kerrigan. The ribs were already under duress from the week before, when the Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney tried to grind them into dust with a vicious hit that knocked the QB out of the game for one play.
There was some question whether or not Foles would be well enough to take on the challenge of playing a ferocious Bears’ defense that is third in the league with 50 sacks. There is no question about it anymore, not after Foles was listed as a full participant in both Thursday and Friday practices.
“Each day it gets better,” said Eagles coach Doug Pederson prior to Friday’s practice. “He's doing everything he can, with treatment and rehab protocols we have him on and what he wants to do. He’s feeling good. He threw (Thursday). Did a nice job … appears just same 'ole Nick. He's a tough guy and he’s been pretty much the same.”
Foles spoke on Wednesday and said there was still “a little bit of soreness, but every drastically improving.”
While he said he would some extra padding he added that he wants to “be able to function and move around.”
Foles has been functioning at a very high level lately, though he always seems to do that when December rolls around. He is 6-1 dating back to 2016 in games played in December and beyond, with the lone loss coming in last year’s regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys when he was pulled out in the first quarter because the game was meaningless.
Foles had an easy explanation for his success in a month where teams either fall by the wayside or excel.
“Simple,” he said, “(I am) surrounded by great people who do their job at a really high level. They care for one another and I’m just a small piece of puzzle that goes in there and does my job.
“I’m always out there playing for my coach, playing for my teammates. I think that’s the key especially this time of year, you lean on one another. I’ve been blessed to be a part of a great group of people and ultimately that’s led to success in later months and into the playoffs.
“The big thing is we’re a confident team. We’re a team, we talk about it all the time, it’s about the people in this building that work together, with that confidence, with that belief in one another you can go out there and do great things. We’ve been able to do that the last several weeks. Those weeks don’t mean anything right now because we’re in a new week so we just have to continue to believe that way, continue to prepare that way.”
The Eagles will prepare for a Bears team that is third in the NFL in takeaways/giveaway at plus-12. They have a league-leading 27 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries.
“The thing I’m really impressed with is their secondary and the vision they have with route recognition and eyes on the quarterback,” said Foles. “That becomes difficult because a defense that can do that is a different element, they’re not just going to line up and play one coverage. They’re going to mix it up, try to confuse my eyes, try to confuse us with different looks.
“Sometimes defenses do that and aren’t good at it and they get gashed, but the thing I see with them is they’re very good at it and have been good at it all year and they’re getting better as the year’s gone on, so it will be a great challenge for us.”
Rules out for the Eagles on Sunday are linebacker D.J. Alexander (hamstring), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring), receiver Mike Wallace (ankle), and quarterback Carson Wentz (back). Questionable are defensive end Michael Bennett (foot), cornerback Avonte Maddox (oblique), left tackle Jason Peters (quad), and guard Isaac Seumalo (chest).
I’d be foolish to pick against the defending Super Bowl champions who have been battle-tested in the postseason with a quarterback who has been nothing short of magical when the pressure is the greatest and with a pass rusher in Fletcher Cox who is coming off a three-sack game and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week against a team that has an inconsistent quarterback on a team that lacks playoff experience. So I won’t.
EAGLES 20, BEARS 19