Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cincinnati Bengals Semi-Coherent Preview

Nov 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) directs the offense against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) directs the offense against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

A preview of the matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals

Coming off two straight losses, the Philadelphia Eagles have a losing record for the first time in 2016. Can they turn things around when they travel to Cincinnati to face another struggling team in the Bengals?

Cincinnati Bengals

Record: 3-7-1 (Third place in AFC North)

Last week: Lost to Baltimore Ravens 14-19

Head coach: Marvin Lewis

The last time they met

The Philadelphia Eagles were 4-9 when they faced the Bengals in a Thursday night matchup in week 15 of the 2012 season. Despite the poor record, there was some cause for hope. The Eagles were coming off of a dramatic win over the Buccaneers, and took a 13-10 halftime lead. Turnovers on four(!) straight possessions in the second half doused that optimism. Thanks largely due to those turnovers, the Bengals scored 24 unanswered points.

What’s the deal with the Bengals

Under coach Marvin Lewis, the Bengals have been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL: Just about every year, they make it to the playoffs and then lose in the first round. 2015 marked the fifth straight year they lost in the first round of the playoffs, and the seventh time in Lewis’ 13 years as coach.

Barring a miracle finish, the Bengals are not going to make the playoffs for a sixth straight year. They have lost three straight games, and their only win since September came at the hands of the Cleveland Browns.

More from Philadelphia Eagles

Injuries to key skill position players haven’t helped the Bengals’ cause. Running back Giovani Bernard and All Pro wide receiver A.J. Green are both out, and running back Jeremy Hill‘s status is questionable. The Bengals have been forced to rely on Tyler Eifert who has played well after missing the first six weeks of the season.

Defensively, the Bengals rank in the bottom half of the league in both yards and points allowed. That said, they do have a couple of dangerous players in linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

You may remember Burfict from this play earlier in the season:

If nothing else, he might have a bright future in the MLS.

Featured Bengals player: Andy Dalton

Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) warms up prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

Nobody seems to know exactly where Andy Dalton ranks among league quarterbacks. He’s made the Pro Bowl a couple of times, and his numbers are usually pretty good, but he’s never one of the first names that comes to mind when listing the top passers. (For years, he’s held the unofficial title of the NFL’s best redheaded quarterback. But with the emergence of Carson Wentz, that status may be in doubt.)

He seems to fit into that category of guys who are good enough to win a Super Bowl, but he won’t be the main reason for the win. On the other hand, if he ever wants to win a Super Bowl, he’ll have to improve on his 1-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the playoffs.

Dalton is not having his best season, but the aforementioned injuries to skill position players likely has a lot to do with that. He also isn’t getting much help from his offensive line. He’s been getting battered by opposing pass rushers, and has suffered ten sacks over the past four games.

Reason to hate the Bengals

The Bengals went through a period where they acquired a bunch of known head cases or high-risk players. While they’ve kept their criminal behavior to a more respectable level in recent seasons, they still employ noted miscreant Adam “Pacman” Jones. You may remember Jones from his several off-field incidents like getting into a fight at a nightclub or assaulting an exotic dancer.

Super important Philadelphia Eagles storyline: Whither the pass rush

Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 13, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) walks off the field late in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Falcons, 24-15. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

The Eagles are clearly a team with some weaknesses. For instance, it’s easy to see that they need upgrades to their cornerback group. The hope was that a strong pass rush would help compensate for the corners, but in the past two games, that hasn’t been the case.

Yes, Aaron Rodgers was getting rid of the ball quickly at times. But even when Rodgers held onto the ball, the Eagles pass rush didn’t seem to be getting close to him. Fletcher Cox is receiving the brunt of the criticism mostly due to his contract. But there’s evidence that Cox is playing well, despite the fact that offenses are focusing on shutting him down.

The real problem appears to be that his linemates aren’t taking advantage of the extra attention that Cox receives. Brandon Graham has cooled down recently, and neither Connor Barwin nor Vinny Curry have shown much. Unless one of those guys starts stepping up his game, the Eagles’ secondary is probably going to have some more rough weeks.

The Eagles have also had problems against mobile quarterbacks. When faced with a slow passer like Sam Bradford, the rush has generally been effective. But when a quarterback can avoid the initial rush – as Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers have done the past two weeks – the Eagles have been unable to stop him.

Eagles vs. Bengals memories

I attended the 1997 game between the Eagles and Bengals at Veterans Stadium, and just about everyone in the crowd that day was convinced that the Eagles had found their next great star at quarterback.

In his third career start, Bobby Hoying had one of the best games by a quarterback in team history. Matched in a shootout against Boomer Esiason, Hoying threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns. Most impressive was that when the Eagles got the ball back trailing by one point with less than a minute left in the game, Hoying coolly led the Eagles into position for a game-winning field goal as time expired. (For those counting, Hoying has more game-winning drives in his career than Carson Wentz.)

As we happily filed out of the stadium, a loud chant of “Bobby! Bobby!” erupted. None of us would have believed you if you told us Hoying would be an ex-Eagle in less than two years’ time.

South Park character who somehow relates to this week’s game

Scott Tenorman

In a matchup of the NFL’s top redheaded quarterbacks, I felt I should reference Eric Cartman’s nemesis, the redheaded Scott Tenorman.

Let’s hope the game goes as poorly for Dalton as this episode went for Scott. Do I want to see Dalton break down in tears after learning he ate his parents? That might be a little harsh, but a few tears of sadness over a loss would be nice.

Elsewhere in the NFL

The New York Giants don’t seem like they should be 8-3, do they? Neither their offense nor defense looks that great, but they keep finding ways to win games. The key seems to be that they have given up the second fewest passing touchdowns in the league. This has helped them give up the fifth fewest points in the league, despite ranking 16th in yards allowed.

Is that sustainable? Probably not, which means the Giants will probably fall short of the playoffs. Or at least, that’s the hope.

Tweet of Unimportance

How bad does a kicker have to be to inspire his own parody Twitter account? Apparently, Bengals fans aren’t too pleased with kicker Mike Nugent who has been proficient at hitting the uprights with his kicks.

The Wentz watch

Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 28, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) passes past Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry (53) during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. The Green Bay Packers won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Carson Wentz got off to a fast start against the Packers, but he was unable to sustain it. There were a lot of factors working against Wentz in the game: He was playing behind a patchwork offensive line with backups at three positions; After Jordan Matthews was injured, a thin group of receivers grew even thinner; And the Packers’ domination on offense limited the amount of time Wentz was on the field.

The Bengals don’t have an intimidating defense, so this looks like a chance for Wentz to succeed. However, he’ll need to get more help from his teammates.

Next: Eagles Looking For Rugby Stars?


The Eagles haven’t been a great road team, but Cincinnati hasn’t been a very intimidating place for visitors. The pass rush should be able to do some damage against the Bengals weak offensive line, and I think Wentz has a good showing to give the Philadelphia Eagles a much-needed win.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 – Cincinnati Bengals 17