Bears have a lot to gain against NFL-best Eagles

Unlike a year ago, when the final four games were an agonizing march to regime change, the last four games of the 2022 season — against the Super Bowl-contending Eagles, Bills and Vikings and even the surging Lions at Ford Field — are the first four of 2023.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) threw for a season-high 254 yards in a 28-19 loss to the Packers on Dec. 4 at Soldier Field.

Quinn Harris, Getty

Just . . . be competitive, baby? 

The rebuilding Bears are 3-10 with six consecutive losses. They’ve allowed an NFL-high 33.5 points a game during the skid, with a league-low four sacks and a league-low three takeaways. Not good. 

So it’s probably not a great time to face the best team in the NFL. The Eagles are 12-1 with everything you want in a contender — an MVP-caliber quarterback, balance, depth, an offensive line that doesn’t miss a game. The Eagles lead the league in scoring and are seventh in points allowed. They lead the league in fewest turnovers and most takeaways.

And get this: The nine-game disparity between the Bears’ and Eagles’ won-loss records is the greatest in Bears franchise history. The last time the Eagles were this good when the Bears were this bad was in 2017, when they met in Week 12 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles were 9-1. The Bears were 3-7. The spread was Eagles by 14.  

And the result was as telling as it was predictable: Eagles 31, Bears 3 in a game that was every bit as bad as the score indicates. The Bears were down 24-0 at halftime. Mitch Trubisky had a 38.3 passer rating. You think the Bears have a nondescript group of receivers now? Trubisky’s top targets on that day were Dontrelle Inman, Tre McBride, Kendall Wright, Daniel Brown and Jordan Howard. 

That actually was one of the better bad Bears teams of the post-Ditka era. The Bears finished 5-11, but a year later, after Matt Nagy replaced John Fox, the Bears went 12-4 and won the NFC North. But this bad Bears team with a worse record is arguably better — without Vic Fangio’s blossoming defense, but with Justin Fields at quarterback. That makes all the difference. 

So there’s much more to gain against the Eagles — whether or not the Bears have a strong finish, they can still make a statement with a credible performance. 

“You are what your record says you are — I believe that,’’ tight end Cole Kmet said. ‘‘We’re a 3-10 football team right now. But I look back on this year, there’s only been three games we were out of it the whole game — the first Green Bay game [27-10], the Jets [31-10 without Fields] and Dallas [49-29]. Besides that, two or three plays, and you’re talking six or seven more wins. 

“It’s frustrating when you say you’re close, but really it is. I didn’t feel like that last year. There were a lot of games last year we really weren’t in. We’re in a lot of these games and competing hard and putting a lot of good stuff on tape. We’re young, finishing this thing out — a sack here, a fumble recovery, and it’s a lot different. So you’ve got to keep that perspective, as well. I think next year it’s pretty exciting stuff, for sure.” 

The Bears will make changes in the offseason, but not the kind of changes they had last year. So the last four games of this season — against the Super Bowl-contending Eagles, Bills and Vikings and the surging Lions — are the first four of the 2023 season. They matter. Even if the Bears don’t win. 

“I’m excited about where this can progress to,” Kmet said. “I’m looking forward to being here next year and the things we can do next year. We all know where we’re at with these final four games. There’s no playoff hopes. But you know where this team can progress to, and we just want to keep building that and keep working at it every week.” 

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