Week 15 kicks off Thursday evening as the struggling Philadelphia Eagles play host to a desperate Cincinnati Bengals squad. While this game isn’t all that intriguing, it does hold huge importance for the visiting Bengals in the tight AFC playoff picture.
Simply put, the Bengals must win this game. Their playoff hopes are on the line Thursday evening, and truthfully, if they can’t emerge victorious against a brutal Eagles team, they don’t deserve to be there. The Bengals enter this game fresh off a tough home loss in Week 14 against the Cowboys. Their defense has been stellar throughout this season, though their offense has a knack of getting stagnant at key times. Against a porous Eagles’ defense that may not be an issue. On the injury front, defensive end Michael Johnson hasn’t practised all week and is likely to be a game-time decision. First-string kicker Mike Nugent remains out, but Josh Brown was steady in relief last week, and will fill in again.
For the Eagles, despite their brutal season a glimmer for the future was seen last week in a surprise victory over Tampa Bay. Pulling out a tough, 23-21 road victory against a squad battling for their playoff lives was an impressive feat. How they build off it will be interesting to observe. Unlike their opponents from Cincinnati, Philadelphia has only pride to play for from here on out. Whether they can muster up a solid performance against a hungry opponent remains to be seen. This was a team that looked down and out in weeks past, but their recent performance could suggest otherwise. Nick Foles has been solid in relief of Mike Vick, but he’ll be without tight end Brent Celek in this contest. LeSean McCoy is still injured as well, as is free safety Kurt Coleman. Though Philly is undoubtedly looking toward the future, many players know jobs could be on the line which is certainly a powerful motivator.
Bengals vs. Eagles Betting Odds:
Cincinnati Bengals -4 (-110)
@ Philadelphia Eagles +4 (-110)
Over 45 (-110)
Under 45 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Bengals vs. Eagles Pick:
This is simply a tale of two teams with two very different things on their mind. The Bengals enter the hungrier bunch, desperate for a win and a playoff position. Meanwhile, the Eagles are a team that despite their victory last week, have quit on their head coach Andy Reid. They’ve turned in dismal performances throughout the season, and play in front of a home crowd that can often be seen as a detriment due to their hostility. While some players are admittedly playing for jobs next season, the team cohesion in Philly just isn’t at the same level it is in Cincinnati. This line seems to be off, and puts too much emphasis on the Eagles’ victory last week. Cincinnati simply needs this victory, and they’ll be the much hungrier side on Thursday night.
Sure Nick Foles has improved every week for the Eagles, and he looked great last week in Tampa Bay. But that was simply a by-product of taking on one of the league’s worst secondaries. This week, Foles will be in tough going against a Cincinnati backfield that is 11th in the NFL against the aerial attack. Cincinnati puts an abundance of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, actually leading the league in QB sacks with 41. That will be problematic for an Eagles’ offensive line with huge protection issues. Expect Philly to have trouble moving the football against a stout Bengals defense.
On the other side of the ball, look for Andy Dalton to be in fine form against the Eagles porous defense on Thursday night. A.J. Green should have a field day against an Eagles secondary that has glaring holes. Even running the football should come easy for the Bengals. Benjarvus Green-Ellis has been much better in recent weeks, and the Eagles can’t stop anybody. Last week, Philly conceded 128 yards on the ground to rookie Doug Martin.
Expect a top-notch performance from the Bengals on Thursday evening. They’re the hungrier side, and have a lot more on the line. Not to mention this is a match-up that clearly sides in their favour. Dalton and Green will dissect a porous Eagles’ secondary en route to a crucial road victory. Laying four points is nothing in this spot, and expect a victory of at least a touchdown.
PICK = Bengals -4 (-110)