After a hard fought and well deserved win against the Buccaneers last week, the Eagles square off against a 7-6 Bengals squad, who are coming off of a tough loss to the Cowboys last week. The Bengals were leading the cowboys by 9 points heading into the 4th quarter to see there lead, and win, disappear on a 40 yard field goal by Dan Baily as time expired. The Bengals playoffs hopes are dangling and they desperately need this win to keep there hopes alive, while the Eagles are trying to build of there first win in 8 games and finish the season on high note.
The key to the game this week will be Andy Dalton vs the Eagles defense. The Bengals are ranked 14th in the league in passing yards per game, averaging 237.8 yards. Dalton has been a very inconsistent player, posting relatively good numbers in wins but posting bad numbers in losses. It’s no secret that when Dalton plays well the Bengal’s win. In the games that the Bengals have won this season, Dalton is averaging a little over 2.5 touchdowns and less that one interception, but in losses he averages just over 1 touchdown and 1.5 interceptions. Another interesting stat, in games the Bengals win, they average 30 points per game and in losses only 18. In order for the Eagles to win this game, they are going to need to play hard nose defense, like they did against Tampa Bay, and force at least one turnover.
An interesting match-up, that could very well decide the outcome of this game, will be A.J. Green versus the Eagles secondary. The Eagles secondary has not played well against star relievers this year, giving up huge games to Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Vincent Jackson. Green, only in his sophomore season, is one of the best receivers in the NFL and is always primed to have a big week. Green is having a Pro Bowl caliber year, with 79 receptions, 1,151 yards (6th), and 10 touchdowns (T-1st). Earlier this year Green recorded 10 touchdowns in 9 games and was absolutely obliterating secondaries. The Eagles pass defense ranks 15th in the league, but is very susceptible to giving up big plays to big players at key moments in the game. The Eagles are going to have to do there best to keep Green in check, whether it be Asomugha or Rodgers-Cromartie, and not allow Green to take over the game.
On the other side of the ball, the Nick Foles lead Eagles offense has been playing well the last couple of weeks and is coming of a great win over Tampa on the road. Nick Foles has averaged 316 yards, 1.5 touchdowns, and zero interceptions over the last two games. The key to success for the Eagles has been that Foles is playing good, mistake free football and isn’t giving the opposing team extra possessions Foles needs to continue this streak to give the Eagles a fighting chance of winning the game.
Along with Foles, another rookie has been leading the Eagles offense over the last three weeks. Bryce Brown played like a monster against Carolina and Dallas, but fumbles have plagued his huge performances. Brown, or the Eagles run game, was nowhere to be seen last week in Tampa Bay, which put all the pressure on Nick Foles’ shoulders. Andy Reid has to get Brown involved early to help lift some of the pressure off of Foles’ shoulders. The Bengals defense is a top-ten defense in the NFL and the Eagles cannot rely on Foles to throw 51 pass attempts, if they expect to win the game.
The Eagles/ Bengals game Thursday night should be a very interesting game because of the circumstances of the two teams. The Bengals need to win out to have a chance to make the playoffs, while the Eagles are trying to build off of their first win in 8 games and finish the season on a high note. In order for the Eagles to win the game, however, the Eagles defense will need to defend the Bengals aerial attack extremely well and cannot let A.J. Green take over the game. On offense, the Eagles need to come at the Bengals with a balanced attack to keep the Bengals defense on their toes and to lift some of the pressure on Nick Foles’ shoulders. In the end, I think the game will be close but the Bengals will get a two possession lead early that the Eagles defense will not be able to overcome.
Prediction: Bengals 27, Eagles 20