Date & Time: September 27th – 1:00 p.m.
Location: Philadelphia, PA – Lincoln Financial Field
Injury Report (as of 9-25):
-Philadelphia: Fletcher Cox (Questionable), Rudy Ford (OUT), Jalen Reagor (OUT), Alshon Jeffery (OUT)
-Cincinnati: Mike Daniels (Questionable), Shawn Williams (Questionable), Geno Atkins (OUT)
The Eagles are 0-2. The Bengals are 0-2. For Cincinnati, this is an understandable start. They had the number one pick a year ago and are in a state of flux as a franchise currently. For the Eagles, they were expected to contend for a playoff spot and start off the season competitively. Dropping to 0-3 would be a devastating low in the Doug Pederson-Carson Wentz era. Let’s take a look at how to Eagles should fair in this matchup:
If the Eagles are going to get back on track, this is going to be the game to do it. The Bengals pass defense is subpar. Outside of Jessie Bates, there isn’t much there. Per PFF starting corner, William Jackson has been targeted 12 times and allowed 7 receptions and is giving up 11.4 yards per reception. Per PFF, starting cornerback opposite Jackson, Darius Phillips through 2 weeks has graded out with a 52.6 overall grade in pass coverage. Phillips has been targeted, 8 times and allowing 3 receptions for 21.7 yards on average per catch allowed. In passing coverage, free agent aquisition, Vonn Bell has allowed a 118.7 passer rating when targeted.
Along the defensive line, the Bengals are also without top defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Looking around the Eagles offense, this is the game to get everything under control. Carson Wentz should have plenty of time to throw against a defense that has only 2 sacks in 2 games and in currently ranked 31st in QB pressures (per Pro Football Reference). In the receiver room, the eyes are on second year wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. With Jalen Reagor out for the foreseeable future, Arcega-Whiteside has no excuse not to perform and produce. It begins with Week 3 and a favorable matchup for him to exploit.
One player who should feast for Philadelphia is Miles Sanders. Through 2 games the Bengals have allowed 370 yards on the ground. They are allowing 5.0 ypc. Miles Sanders started out rough last week against the Rams, fumbling early, but eventually put it together throughout the matchup. Sanders finished with 95 yards, 1 touchdown and 4.8 ypc on 20 attempts. This should be a game where Sanders is truly the Eagles bell cow. 20-25 attempts should be the bar for Sanders.
Simply put, if the Eagles offensive line can protect and open up running lanes, this should be a win for Philadelphia. They should have no reason to not be able to, As mentioned, the Bengals are without top defensive tackle Geno Atkins and the rest of their defensive line isn’t that strong to where they could wreck the game. The offensive line just has to do their job and the rest of the offense will follow.
For the Eagles defense, this is the area where they could possibly struggle. Specifically, in the secondary for two players: Avonte Maddox and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Maddox is 5’9. The Bengals wide receivers heights are as follows: A.J. Green – 6’4, Tyler Boyd – 6’2, Tee Higgins – 6’4. Darius Slay will likely draw Tyler Boyd, that leaves Avonte Maddox with either A.J. Green or Tee Higgins, both of which should be a pretty tough matchup for the shorter Maddox. Jim Schwartz may choose to not implore matchups and allow the corners to play sides regardless of which receiver is lined up where. For, Robey-Coleman, the first two games have been a struggle. Robey-Coleman is allowing a 158.3 passer rating when targeted. For the Eagles secondary to have success, NRC has to be better.
This should be another matchup for the Eagles defensive line to exploit. Joe Burrow has been sacked 6 times and pressured 52 times through 2 games per PFF. The Eagles defensive line has gotten pressure at times in the season but it hasn’t translated into production, as they have just 4 sacks on the season. This is a matchup against one of the worst (if not the worst) offensive lines in the league. Fletcher Cox status is unknown for Sunday’s matchup, however, even still the Eagles still have Malik Jackson and Javon Hargrave. Brandon Graham can also kick inside if need be on specific sets. The Eagles defensive line has the opportunity to dominate this game.
Zac Taylor comes from the coaching tree of Sean McVay. Expect to see some of the same concepts such as the usage of play action, zone runs, and a heavy dosage of mis-direction with Joe Mixon out of the backfield. Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz will have opportunities to exploit several matchups in this game. This is a game where Doug Pederson should have the ability to implement and call some innovative and creative offensive concepts due to the ability level of Cincinnati’s defense. Jim Schwartz is facing a rookie quarterback. Pressure should be dialed up and Joe Burrow should be given exotic looks from the Eagles defense. Understandably, that is out of character for Schwartz, but the Eagles are 0-2, he has to get a little out of character in order to be successful.
This game has the chance to go one of two ways: A blowout win for the Eagles or a highly competitive matchup that goes down to the wire. Think the 2019 matchup with the Jets, if it’s the former and the 2018 week 12 matchup with the Giants if it’s the latter. Considering how the Eagles have looked throughout the first two weeks of the season, I am of the opinion that it will be the latter.
Bold Prediction: Jalen Hurts has a rushing touchdown
Pick: Eagles 24, Bengals 20