For the avoidance of doubt, the Eagles played on Sunday night in Week Four last year against a good defensive team on the road without the services of Brian Westbrook and one of their best offensive linemen (Tra Thomas). Yeah. That one sooked, and not just because (a) I had to watch it in person and (b) it was the effing Giants (on which my feelings are well documented).
I want to believe that tonight's going to be different, and it should be: Donovan McNabb is acres healthier and more confident than he was at this point last year, and the Birds' defense is playing with a ton of swagger. But the Bears are no joke, at least on defense. A vengeful Brian Griese may have lit up the Bears' secondary (oh, the irony!), but the Bucs were completely useless running the ball (I know this mostly because I started Earnest Graham in one of my imaginary football leagues). From the volume of third-person self references coming out of Tommie Harris, we should expect a similar performance this week.
I have visions of a lot of stalled dink-and-dunk offense from the Birds, nervous stops from the defense, and a game that isn't decided until late in the fourth quarter. I think the Birds win because the Eagles' defense is feeling strong and because Donovan McNabb doesn't like to lose in his home town, but I think it'll be a hassle all the way. Let's call it 23-17 Birds.
(Also, really nice Fog Bowl segment on the ESPN pre-game show this morning. No buddy interview, though. SIGH.)