The Philadelphia Eagles will aim to play spoiler when they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Find out which side has the edge with our tale of the tape.
After scoring at least 28 points in three consecutive games the Bengals offense has sputtered over the last couple of weeks, putting up only 39 points combined in splitting two games against the Chargers and Cowboys. Quarterback Andy Dalton has already thrown more interceptions this season (14) than he did in his entire rookie campaign last year (13). Of course, he's also thrown five more touchdown passes. Cincinnati has made a concerted effort to get its ground game rolling and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has responded by running for 437 yards over the last four games.
The Eagles offense has shown steady improvement since rookie QB Nick Foles took over for an injured Michael Vick. Last Sunday, Foles threw for a career-high 381 yards and two touchdowns in a come-from-behind win over the Bucs. While RB Bryce Brown had been a force in the previous two weeks, he was held to only six yards on 12 carries in Tampa Bay. They'll need to get him going again with LeSean McCoy expected to miss at least one more game.
When healthy, the Bengals own one of the more underrated defenses in the entire league. It looks like LB Rey Maualuga will be able to play Thursday after suffering an ankle injury against Dallas. You would have to go all the way back to November 4 to find the last time the Bengals allowed more than 20 points in a game. They've held four of their last five opponents to 13 points or less, paving the way for a five-game under streak.
The Eagles finally stopped the bleeding this past Sunday, holding the Bucs to 21 points after allowing at least 30 in four consecutive games. They limited Bucs QB Josh Freeman to only 14-of-34 passing, but didn't record a single turnover in the win. In fact, they haven't forced a turnover since November 5 in New Orleans. That's a streak that will need to come to an end if they're going to string together a second straight win this week. Corner Nnamdi Asomugha is questionable to play due to a quad injury.
Cincinnati has been terrific defending punt returns, holding the opposition to just north of eight yards per return. It has also been effective on the flip side, averaging 11.6 yards per punt return and 22.9 yards per kickoff return. Bengals kicker Mike Nugent is 19 for 23 on field goal attempts this season, but he was forced to miss last week's game due to a calf injury. Josh Brown made good on all four field goal attempts in Nugent's absence last Sunday.
The Eagles fall right around the league average in terms of punt and kick returning, but have struggled defending them, giving up 13.7 yards per punt return and 26 yards per kickoff return. Kicker Alex Henery has been a bright spot, connecting on 23 of 26 field goal attempts.
Word on the street
“We have the opportunity to still control our own end, from now until the end. We still have an opportunity to win the division. We still have an opportunity to qualify for the playoffs in a couple of ways. That’s all we can ask for." -- Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on his team's playoff prospects following last Sunday's loss to Dallas.
"More important than (playing the spoiler is to) play for yourself. Play for this organization. Those are the things we’re going to try to do right now and we have another good opportunity to do that Thursday." -- Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin on what's left to play for as the season winds down.