Week 15: Cincinnati Bengals At Philadelphia Eagles
- QuarterbackThe Bengals and Andy Dalton were flying high on a four-game winning streak, but they let it slip away in Week 14 against the Cowboys. Dalton helped the Bengals build a nine-point second-half lead, but he could not capitalize on a number of opportunities that would have put the game out of reach for the Cowboys. Dalton needs to show more of a killer instinct.The Eagles don’t have much to play for at this point, but at least their eight-game losing streak is over. Nick Foles has gotten battered regularly since taking over for the injured Michael Vick at the quarterback slot, but he was 32-of-51 vs. the Bucs and threw the game-winning TD pass to Jeremy Maclin on the last play of the game. His confidence should be somewhat improved as a result.
- OffenseThe running game has given the Bengals a key lift this season. While they don’t make big plays, BenJarvus Green-Ellis runs with toughness. He has rushed for 885 yards and five touchdowns while gaining an average of 3.9 yards per carry. Wide receiver A.J. Green can break open any game with his ability to get deep and make a catch over the top of the defense.The Eagles have been hurt badly by their offensive line woes. Philadelphia quarterbacks have been under pressure throughout the season, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Maclin is an outstanding talent who can make nearly impossible catches. Running back Bryce Brown was held in check by Tampa Bay, but he has some explosive characteristics.
- DefenseThe Bengals rank eight in total defense and are solid against the run and the pass. The Bengals can cause a lot of problems because of their strength in the middle of the defensive line. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is a sure-fire All-Pro. He can clog up the middle of the defensive line and he is also a dominant pass rusher.The Eagles can do a good job in coverage, but they have given up key plays at big moments throughout the season. MLB DeMeco Ryans has been one of the most dependable players for the Eagles defense and he is coming off a 7-tackle effort against Tampa Bay. Underrated outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks is a sure tackler with good range.
- Special TeamsThe Bengals have gotten solid production from their special teams throughout the season. They turned to new kicker Josh Brown against the Cowboys and he responded with a solid 4-of-4 effort on his FG attempts. Regular kicker Mike Nugent had to miss the game with a calf injury. Adam Jones is one of the better punt returners in the league.Alex Henery is slumping as a placekicker. He made just 1-of-3 FG attempts in the win over the Bucs. Matt McBriar has a strong leg and he averaged 49.0 yards on seven punts in the win over Tampa Bay. The Eagles’ punt and kickoff coverage teams have been below average this season.
The Bengals are at the precipice of their season. After blowing a game they should have won against the Cowboys, they can either panic and go into a tailspin or come out of it and get a win over a team they should beat. Dalton is a much more accomplished quarterback at this point than Nick Foles and the Bengals should have the advantage.