CINCINNATI BENGALS (7-6)
at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-9)
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. EDT
Line: Cincinnati -4, Total: 45
After a last-second loss last Sunday, the Bengals try to keep their playoff hopes alive on Thursday night when they visit Philadelphia.
The new-look Eagles have a chance to play spoiler again. They knocked off Tampa Bay on the final play last week, as rookie QB Nick Foles played by far his best game of the year (32-of-51, 381 yards, 2 TD, rush TD, no turnovers). RB Bryce Brown (12 carries for six yards) was bottled up against the Bucs' excellent run defense, but he should be relatively fresh on the short week after just 14 touches. The Bengals had taken advantage of a soft spot in the schedule, but couldn’t get off the field against the Cowboys last week, allowing Dallas to go 11-for-19 on third down and overcoming a late nine-point deficit to win at Cincinnati on a last-second field goal. The Bengals have played well on the road this year at 4-2 (SU and ATS), while the Eagles are winless ATS at home (0-5-1).
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Bengals QB Andy Dalton has been underwhelming in his past two games, throwing for just 417 yards on 71 attempts (5.9 YPA) with 2 TD and 3 INT. He was also sacked five times versus Dallas last week. However, Dalton is facing an Eagles pass rush tallying 22 sacks this year (tied for third-fewest in the NFL) and Philly's pass defense has not intercepted a pass in seven straight games, allowing 18 TD over this span. Dalton also has one of the top wideouts in the game in A.J. Green, who is eager to put last week's poor outing behind him when he had a couple of key dropped passes and just 44 receiving yards, his second lowest output of the season. Green has had no trouble getting open on the road this year, compiling 681 yards and 5 TD in six games. Cincinnati also has a workhorse running back that has gotten stronger down the stretch in BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has 437 rushing yards (5.4 YPC) over the past four games. The Eagles run defense isn't horrible (119 YPG, 17th in NFL), but they have surrendered more than 100 rushing yards in nine straight games. A big reason for the Bengals recent success (4-1 SU and ATS in past five games), has been their ability to hold onto the football with 0-to-1 giveaways in six of their past seven contests.
Foles is coming off a great game in Tampa Bay, but he was sacked six times, something that could be problematic against a Bengals defense that leads the NFL this year with 42 sacks. Cincinnati's defense in general has played extremely well in the past five games, allowing just 12.4 PPG on 281 total YPG. Foles will not have the services of three injured starters in RB LeSean McCoy (concussion), WR DeSean Jackson (ribs) and TE Brent Celek (concussion), but he will likely rely heavily on WR Jeremy Maclin again after the receiver posted nine catches (on 13 targets) for 104 yards and the 1-yard TD reception on the final play of the game last Sunday. WR Jason Avant has also come up big in his starting role replacing Jackson, catching 11 passes for 212 yards over the past two games. The Eagles boast the league's ninth-best rushing offense (126 YPG), but 65 percent of those yards came from McCoy and injured QB Michael Vick. Brown has been impressive with 5.7 yards per carry, but his four fumbles (three lost) in just 87 attempts are also worrisome. Philly's offensive line has been gashed with injuries all season, and the Bengals have absolutely stuffed the run in the past three weeks, allowing just 194 yards on 58 carries (3.3 YPC). Turnovers have been a big issue for the Eagles all season, as they lead the NFC with 29 giveaways.