On the other hand, the Bengals have everything to lose.
The Eagles are lucky to have the wonderful opportunity to play ‘spoiler’ once again, being that the Bengals (7-6) are fighting hard for a playoff spot. The Eagles recorded their first win in nine weeks count last Sunday, when they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, almost completely squashing the Bucs’ playoff hopes.
While the Bengals certainly have a future Hall-of-Famer in WR A.J. Green, the rest of their offense is mediocre at best. Yes, Bengals QB Andy Dalton has impressed critics in his short NFL career, but he is far from an elite QB and is not really a great threat to beat a team on his own.
For the people who think I’m crazy for down-playing Dalton’s success this season, his huge-stat games have come against cupcake defenses, and a lot of his passing yards have been racked up in garbage time.
But Dalton and the Bengals are again in luck on Thursday, because the Eagles’ secondary (and entire defense for that matter) have been allowing a boat-load of points to nearly every opponent.
And to add injury to insult, if I may, Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha was forced to leave last Sunday’s game with a neck injury. Although Asomugha is probable to play on Thursday night, he will be far from 100 percent and likely hesitant to pounce in certain situations.
When it comes to the Eagles’ offense, the group as a whole has been wildly inconsistent all season long. And not just when it comes to quality of play, but when it comes to who is even on the field at any given time.
Eagles QB Nick Foles took over for QB Michael Vick in the second quarter of Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys,when Vick went down with a concussion. After playing miserably in his first two NFL starts, Foles has been incredibly impressive in his past two games, posting 4 total touchdowns (1 rushing) with zero turnovers.
The following week the Eagles lost RB LeSean McCoy to a concussion as well, and backup RB Bryce Brown filled his shoes. Almost opposite of Foles, Brown reeled off two fantastic games in his first two starts (347 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns combined), but put up an absolute stinker last week with 6 yards on 12 carries.
Vick and McCoy have both been ruled out again for Thursday night’s game, so it will be up to Foles and Brown to handle the bulk of the offensive load.
Eagles WRs Jason Avant and Riley Cooper will also need to continue their progress, as WR DeSean Jackson (ribs) is out for the year and WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) is again banged up. Maclin will likely play.
The Eagles’ offense will without a doubt be facing a huge test on Thursday night, being that the Bengals tote the 6th-best defense (328 total yards allowed per game) in all of professional football.
While I do think that Foles and the birds will put up a fight, the Eagles’ defense is just too weak, and the Dalton-Green duo are going to have a field day.
When the final horn sounds, the Bengals will reign victorious with a score of 31-25.
Please follow Joe on Twitter @Joe_RantNFL for all Eagles/NFL insight.