Matt Forte has been called the best running back in the NFL, even the best player in the NFL by teammates this season. But he might not be the best running back on the field Monday night. Or the most underrated or underpaid running back either.
The Eagles' LeSean McCoy is coming in to Monday night's game against the Bears with some pretty fair credentials of his own. He leads the NFL with 107.7 rushing yards per game, 5.6 yards per carry and eight rushing touchdowns. That's pretty good.
He's coming off a career-best performance against the Cowboys on Sunday. Facing the No. 1-ranked rushing defense in the league (69.7 yards allowed per game), McCoy had 30 carries for 185 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 34-7 rout. He added 15 yards on two receptions for an even 200 yards from scrimmage.
And he wasn't just piling on bonus yards in a blowout, either. McCoy gained 76 yards on his first six carries against the Cowboys, then scored on a two-yard run to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead. That's more yards in less than a quarter than the Cowboys had been allowing in an entire game.
Both players have not fumbled this season -- Forte in 162 touches, McCoy in 158.
Forte has faced three teams currently in the top 10 in rushing defense in the NFL this season -- the Vikings (No. 5), the Falcons (No. 7) and Packers (No. 10). He had 42 carries for 157 yards and no touchdowns in those games.
McCoy has faced three of the top seven -- the 49ers (No. 1), Cowboys (No. 4) and Falcons (No. 7). He had 57 carries for 298 yards and four touchdowns in those games.
McCoy doesn't have the receiving yards to compete with Forte, who has 38 receptions for 419 yards and leads all NFL running backs in yards from scrimmage (1,091). McCoy has 23 receptions for 138 yards to give him 992 total yards.
But even with that modest receiving total, McCoy does have two touchdown catches this season. That's where McCoy has the biggest edge over Forte -- he's scored 10 touchdowns in seven games this season. He has scored a touchdown in seven consecutive games, one shy of the Eagles' record. Forte has three touchdowns in seven games.
Unlike Forte, McCoy isn't actively seeking a new contract. He's making $500,000 this season. But he's only in the third year of his rookie contract after being drafted in the second round (53rd overall) from Pittsburgh in 2009. Forte, a second-round pick (44th overall) from Tulane in 2008, is in the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, which will pay him $600,000 this season.
McCoy has more time. He turned 23 in July. Forte will be 26 in December. That's a big difference for a running back in the NFL.