The Cincinnati Bengals are in another must-win situation on Thursday night. With the 2012 NFL season ticking away, the orange and black must take advantage of every opportunity to expose teams in every game left on the schedule. That includes the short week matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia has struggled all season long to the detriment of the head coach and starting quarterback. Now with Andy Reid beginning to take his final breaths with the Eagles and a rookie quarterback, the team will be looking to salvage what they can against Cincinnati.
There are too many things blocking their path, though. It may be too hard for the Eagles to overcome a starting running back that has been ruled out again, a struggling defense, and a surging Cincinnati team coming to town that is fighting to get in to the playoffs. The Bengals should be able to send the Eagles back in to a tailspin after their visit to Lincoln Financial Field in primetime.
The Eagles lost their starting quarterback to a concussion on November 11 and he has yet to return to the field. The team’s rookie Nick Foles has taken the reigns of the team and many believe he may be the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. This move leaves Michael Vick on the sidelines, for likely the rest of the season, and possibly hunting for a new job.
Though, Nick Foles has been impressive for the Eagles through the air, he has still only won one game. The Bengals defense has been stout in the second half of the season, shutting out teams and attacking opposing quarterbacks with an aggressive pass rush. Foles and the Eagles offensive line will have their hands full with the Cincinnati on Thursday and I don’t look for the rookie to get much going.
Another area the Eagles have struggled in is the rushing attack. Along with Vick, starting running back LeSean McCoy has also been out with concussion symptoms. Though, he was cleared by the team doctor this week, the neurologist has not yet given approval. Therefore, McCoy will be inactive for the game, placing the ball back in the rookie Bryce Brown’s hands.
Bryce Brown had a breakout game and then fell off of the charts as quickly as he got them. He has been prone to ball handling issues, accompanied with frequent fumbles. The Bengals defense has been outstanding against the run. Last week they only allowed Dallas a mere 49 yards on the ground for a two yard average. The Eagles will be forced to be one dimensional if this Bengals front plays the way they have been in the second half of the season.
The third reason the Bengals will take this matchup comes from the offense. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, though missing in action for a good part of last week’s game, has been a work horse in the team’s last three wins. Last week, with limited touches he still averaged 7.4 yards on the ground. BJGE and Dalton should be able to control this game from start to finish.
In the end, it will be a good game under the lights. Though, the Bengals have struggled on the big stage, this game has every chance to turn it around for Cincinnati. They will be playing, not only for the win, but for the future of their season.