When the Eagles are on Offense:
The Buccaneers defense was ranked dead last, 32nd, against the pass. The Bengals come in boasting the 10th ranked defense against the pass with much of their success coming from their defensive line which ranks first in the NFL in sacks with 42. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is as disruptive as you will find on the Bengals defense. He has registered 10 sacks while drawing attention away from ends Carlos Dunlap (a Dunlap who can actually play) and Michael Johnson. The offensive line is going to have its hands full this week and needs to bounce back after allowing six sacks last Sunday.
The offense looked different last week than it had in the two prior starts for Nick Foles and it had nothing to do with the quarterback. Rookie running back Bryce Brown was invisible last week rushing the ball 12 times for six yards and no touchdowns after rushing for 178 yard and 169 yards and two touchdowns apiece in each of the previous two games. Now Brown was expected to struggle against the Bucs who rank first in the NFL in rushing defense. The Bengals rank 11th in rushing defense but were stingy last week holding Dallas to just 49 rushing yards. The Eagles are going to have to get more than just six yards out of Brown this week if they want to beat the Bengals. This will be the first time the Eagles will play without Brent Celek since 2006.
When the Bengals are on Offense:
Dalton’s favorite target, Green, has already surpassed in 2011 numbers. This year he has 79 receptions for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns. At 6’4” 207 lbs., Green’s combination of size and speed makes him a matchup nightmare for defensive backfields, especially the Eagles. If Green has Nnamdi Asomugha one-on-one a lot tonight, expect it to look like the Atlanta game as Nnamdi chased Julio Jones down the field. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie might get the call to cover Green due simply to his 6’2” frame and his speed. If DRC is covering Green, the Eagles are going to need safety help because DRC’s tackling skills are suspect at best. Dalton works his tight end into the passing game as well. Jermaine Gresham has been productive for the Bengals. Standing at 6’5” 260 lbs. he is on the bigger side for a tight end which makes him difficult to bring down. He has caught 55 balls for 636 yards and five touchdowns. Mychal Kendricks along with the safeties are going to have to be at the top of their games tonight.
The Eagles defense needs to step up. Bucs running back Doug Martin rushed for 128 yards last week and they are facing another solid back in BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Eagles run defense has been suspect at best ranking 17th in the league allowing an average of 119.3 yards per game. The “Lawfirm,” as Green-Ellis is called, is only 26 yards away from his second career 1,000 yard rushing season. He is averaging 4.1 yards per carry this year, his highest since he averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2010 with the New England Patriots.
The Eagles best bet for their first forced turnover in five games comes tonight. Green-Ellis has three fumbles on the year and lost two of them. Through the air, the Eagles might be catching Dalton at the right time if they want to get their first interception since before their Bye Week. Dalton has thrown three interceptions in his last two games, including two against the Chargers. He had 14 interceptions on the year.
Special Teams and Prediction:
The Bengals also feature a kicker that was picked relatively high. Mike Nugent was selected in the second round of the 2005 draft by the New York Jets. He is 19-for-23 (82.6%) on the year.
The Bengals are still in the AFC playoff hunt at 7-6. They need this game badly and it will show with their play. The Eagles got more pressure last week from their defensive line than they did in any previous week this year. I think we still a slightly improved Eagles team this week and a hungry Nick Foles.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be enough for the Eagles to pull this one out.
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