With a shot to achieve the AFC Wild Card still on the line, the (7-6) Cincinnati Bengals travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the (4-9) Philadelphia Eagles. With the AFC tightening up, this game is a must-win for the Bengals (8.25pm ET, Thursday).
The Bengals began their season with a humiliating loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Following this however, they won three in a row and looked more like the team that made the playoffs last year than the ones that opened up the 2012 season. The team then went on to lose their next four, dropping winnable contests against the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland and losing to playoff contending Pittsburgh and Denver as well. It was after the defeat to Denver though, that the Bengals got much better.
They went on to have a four game winning streak which included an 18-point win over the New York Giants, 22-point win over the Kansas City Chiefs and 24-point win over the Oakland Raiders. The Bengals then beat the San Diego Chargers before dropping a heartbreaker to the Dallas Cowboys.
Where Did the Eagles Go Wrong?
Coming off a 7-9 season that saw Philly just miss the playoffs, the Eagles actually entered the 2012 regular season on an eight game winning streak having won the last four of the 2011 season and all four of their preseason games.
Unlike the Bengals, the Eagles actually started with a 3-1 record. It was following this however that the team dropped to close contests to the Steelers and Lions. At 3-3, they then proceeded to lose each of their next six games before finally winning last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Stacked with talent, the Eagles for the second year in a row just couldn’t make it happen. As a result, the team finds themselves eliminated from the playoffs and the best prospect being a second straight 7-9 record.
Playing For Pride or Playing the Spoiler?
When your team finds itself in a downward spiral, the best thing to hope for is just that one win. Considering that in Philadelphia, the Phillies, who missed the major league baseball playoffs, had actually won a game more recently than the Eagles, fans were unsurprisingly restless.
The same fans had also been lobbying for the firing of head coach Andy Reid for some time and with the Eagles and their struggles, had the perfect opportunity to continue this fight. Quarter back Michael Vick lost his starting job, Pro Bowl tight end Jason Babin was put on waivers and star running back Lesean McCoy suffered a concussion. Nothing was going right for the Eagles.
But then rookie quarter back Nick Foles pulled off a miracle to give the Eagles their first win since October. And now instead of playing for a high draft pick, the Eagles are playing for job security, but mostly for pride.
As such, this is when a team can be the most dangerous.
Last week, the Eagles stopped the 6-6 Buccaneers, essentially ending their chance to make the playoffs in the NFC. This week, they will face yet another playoff bubble team and have a shot at effectively ending the Bengals and their playoff run.
This year, the Bengals have actually played well against teams that had nothing to strive for. They dominated both the 3-10 Oakland Raiders and 2-11 KC Chiefs. The Eagles are just 4-9 and right now, the match-up benefits Cincinnati. That said, a desperate team and desperate players especially in front of the home town fans, are definitely not going to go down without a fight.
The Grass is “Green”er in Cincinnati
The pun may be cheesy but it is a truth that tells most of the story of the Bengals’ 2012 season. Just like it did last season, this team’s success is dictated, yes by quarter back Andy Dalton, but mainly through the pass catching prowess of the star now in his second year, out of Georgia, AJ Green.
In 2011, Green walked onto the scene and truly dominated as a rookie. He played in all but one game, catching 65 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns. With Dalton, he led the team to the playoffs.
Now in his second year, Green has already amassed all of his rookie numbers. He has played in all 13 of the Bengals’ games, catching 79 receptions for 1,151 yards and ten touchdowns. He paces the Cincinnati offense in all of these categories and with his ten touchdowns, leads all wide receivers in the NFL in this category.
Green has put together monster games this season, most notably in Bengals’ victories. Against the high powered Washington Redskins, Green caught passes to the amount of a season high 183 yards. It also marked the second of nine consecutive games in which Green caught a TD pass. In Bengals’ losses, Green has caught passes for less than 100 yards five times. Four of these times, he has caught passes for less than 70 yards. In wins however, Green has only had receptions for less than 85 yards once.
Defenses have been unable to stop the receiver and this shouldn’t change against the Eagles. Philadelphia has the league’s 15th worst passing defense and is dealing with two corner backs that are really struggling. Green should easily be favored in this match-up and could be primed for a huge game.
Bengals v Eagles Betting Picks Advice
- The Eagles, playing at home, are the underdogs and get a +4 points advantage on the sportsbooks’ spread. However Cincinnati has been successful on the road and they can cover the deficit. So bet on Cincinnati -4pts @ -110 with either BetOnline or Bovada.
- Also, my advice is to pick the under on the total points at 45.5 @ odds of -110 with BetOnline. Neither the Eagles or Bengals have been high scorers this season. The trends of games at the Linc that have met the over indicate that this should be another low scoring contest.
- NOTE to Non-Americans: Place these bets with Bet365.