PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Eagles are 0-2 on the season after two weeks of ugly performances. While the offensive line stepped up in Week 2’s 37-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Carson Wentz was put in the hot seat for his subpar play.
The CBS3 Digital Team breaks down what needs to change in order for the Eagles to turn the season around and get their first win Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Bengals.
Matt Higgins: Welp … we’re only three weeks in and the Eagles’ season is already hanging in the balance as they face the 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. If the winless Birds can’t take care of the Bengals, their next three games are against the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, and a 1-5 or 0-6 start is not out of the realm of possibility.
As always, the onus will be on quarterback Carson Wentz to turn things around. As Pat Gallen reported Wednesday, Wentz is playing some of the worst football of his career as he is among the bottom five of quarterbacks in passer rating, completion percentage and interceptions. And the franchise QB will be down rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor and left guard Isaac Seumalo.
But despite that, the Bengals’ defense is not lighting the league on fire. Wentz needs to take a few shots deep in this game as he did against the Washington Football Team in the season opener, but abandoned during the Los Angeles Rams loss. And stating the obvious, Wentz needs to make better decisions in the pocket, make better throws, stop turning the ball over and stop playing like this is his first year in the league.
The Birds should also be using the two-headed running back monsters of Miles Sanders and Boston Scott as the Bengals’ defense has been giving up 185 rushing yards per game the first two weeks of the season. Doing that will open up so many more play-action opportunities for the offense.
And on the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles front four needs to pressure rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and not let him feel comfortable in the pocket. They need to rack up multiple sacks this game and be in Burrow’s face all day. The defense as a whole needs to find a way to create turnovers against the Bengals and the linebacking corps needs to step up.
This definitely isn’t a gimme win whatsoever with the way the Birds have been playing, but turning the season around begins Sunday. Because if it doesn’t, it’s gonna be a long and ugly season for fans — only until the Phillies let J.T. Realmuto walk.
Prediction: Eagles win 27-20
Alyssa Adams: When looking at the Eagles’ schedule, many of us probably listed Week 3 against the Bengals as an “easy” win. But, after two weeks of flat out bad performances by the Birds and aggressive play from the Bengals, I think this one is going to be a nailbiter for Eagles fans.
The Birds need to establish the run early.
The Bengals’ defense has allowed 370 rushing yards and four rushing TDs over the last two weeks. This week is the perfect opportunity to put the ball in the hands of running backs Miles Sanders or Boston Scott and let their explosiveness do the work.
On Monday, Doug Pederson said he doesn’t want Carson Wentz to feel like he has to make “all the plays every single time.” Finding flow in the run game will alleviate some pressure and open up some play-action opportunities for Carson and the rest of the offense.
The Eagles’ defense hasn’t been very promising thus far, but I think the Birds’ offense finds a rhythm and this will be a high scoring game.
Prediction: Eagles get their first win of the season, 34-31
Matt Bowker: The Eagles are bad. The Bengals were supposed to be bad — they “won” the No. 1 pick last year — but are playing competitive ball with Joe Burrow at the helm. Three weeks ago, fans would’ve marked this game down as an easy win. But now? There is no such thing as a cupcake game with these Birds.
The answer to how the Birds can right the ship is obvious — fix the turnovers. The Eagles have an NFL-worst minus-5 turnover differential. Carson Wentz has looked like a rookie QB with his decision-making this season and is tied for the league lead with four interceptions. But it’s not all on him.
The Birds have only forced one turnover this year, and the defense had just one sack against the Rams in Week 2. With all of the big names and big money tied up on the defensive line, the Eagles need to get more out of that group to force fumbles and errant passes.
It’s now or never for the 2020 Eagles. With a three-game stretch vs. the 49ers, Steelers and Ravens coming up, if the Birds can’t beat the Bengals, just pack in the season.
Prediction: Eagles 31-27
Tom Dougherty: The Eagles haven’t beaten the Bengals in two decades, since Christmas Eve in 2000. In their last two meetings, the Birds have been outscored, 66-27, with an average margin of defeat at 19.5 points. Before that, there was the 13-13 tie, and then a 38-10 loss in 2005 when Jeff Blake started at QB for the Birds. There’s not much going right for the Eagles to convince me this is the year they finally beat Cincinnati.
Sure, Cincy is starting a rookie quarterback and was the worst team in the league last season. But Joe Burrow is the real deal, and well, there are serious questions as to whether Carson Wentz actually is.
Two weeks ago, the Eagles’ offensive line couldn’t block anyone. Last week, they did. In both games, Wentz made brutal decisions, made bad throws and turned the ball over. If he turns in a third straight mediocre-at-best performance, the Birds will have created a QB controversy they easily could have avoided had they drafted an offensive lineman, receiver, or linebacker who actually plays in the second round instead of another quarterback. The Eagles probably should beat the Bengals, but there’s too much going wrong to say they will.
Prediction: Bengals 26, Eagles 17
Erik Chambliss: There is a lot the Eagles can improve on going into Week 3 against the Bengals, but to keep it simple they need to score. They’ve been outscored 57-19 in their last six quarters of play. For a team with as many explosive players as they have, the Eagles’ inability to put points on the board is alarming.
The Birds may have to rely heavily once again on the running back position. The Bengals’ run defense has been suspect.
In two games combined, Cincinnati has given up 370 yards (5.0 yards per rush attempt) on the ground and four rushing touchdowns.
If the Eagles want to have a chance, they will rely on the running attack and capitalize on play-action opportunities. With that said, I do think Miles Sanders will have a huge game in his second week back and lead the Eagles to their first win.
Prediction: Eagles 24-17.
Catch Sunday’s Eagles game against the Cincinnati Bengals on CBS3 at 1 p.m.