This is a must win for Cincinnati. After putting together a four-game winning streak, they took an unfortunate step back last week by getting beat by the Cowboys at home. Tonight they take on another NFC East foe, or what’s left of them. The Eagles are beaten up and have just been plain bad this season. Most of their playmakers on offense won’t play in this one, and I’m sure the Bengals are just fine with that.
Key Matchup: BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. the Eagles rush defense. Ellis has been the heart and soul of this offense since they’ve turned things around. He’s on the brink of the second 1,000-yard campaign of his career and he’s going to get it tonight against the Eagles. Ellis needs to set the tone for the offense. Andy Dalton has been good, but inconsistent. The receiving corps had a rough week last week as well. The Law Firm needs to put this team on his back and open up the offense for Dalton and AJ Green. The Eagles rank 17th in the NFL in rush defense, so it’s likely he’ll have a big game.
Player to Watch: AJ Green. After catching TD passes in nine straight games, Green had 2 key drops last week that led to the Bengals collapsing in the 4th quarter to against the Cowboys. I am curious to see how Green responds. He’s been one of the league’s best wide-outs and this team needs him if they’re going to make the playoffs. He hasn’t faced much adversity this season, but I think he’s going to have a big game. Watch for Green to get into the end zone and rack up a good amount of yards.
Injury Report: The Bengals will be missing starting corner Dre Kirkpatrick and place kicker Mike Nugent. However, it looks like star linebacker Rey Maualuga will start tonight. The Eagles are racked with injuries. Although Michael Vick has passed his concussion test he will not start. Similarly, Lesean McCoy has also been ruled out of tonight’s game because of a concussion he sustained several weeks ago. Nnamdi Asomugha and Jeremy Maclin will start tonight despite their respective muscle strains. When you lose a pro bowl quarterback and running back to injury, it’s going to be tough on your team. The Bengals are pretty healthy and will look to take advantage of the injury plagued Eagles.
My Prediction: Bengals 31 Eagles 17. I don’t think this game is going to be very close. I think the Eagles are overmatched on every front and they have nothing to play for at this point. The Bengals will be reinvigorated after their heartbreaking loss just 4 days ago and will bounce back strong. Ellis is going to run up and down the field and will open up the passing game for Dalton to AJ Green and Jermaine Gresham.