A battle between 0-2 teams happens this Sunday. Plenty of intrigue, excitement and scrutiny have been building all week for this matchup. The Philadelphia Eagles play their second home game this season as they take on the Cincinnati Bengals at 1 p.m. EST. Many experts have given this game the coinable phrase “a must win” for the Eagles. Let’s examine why this Eagles team should not take the Bengals lightly, and if they do, they could very much be at 0-3 when the clock his 0:00.
The Bengals come off two losses to start the season. Number One overall pick in the 2020 draft Joe Burrow has played fairly well for not having a true offseason of preparation. Burrow has 97 pass attempts through two games, and a completion percentage of 61.9%. He has only thrown one Interception with all of those passes attempted. Not to mention Burrow has averaged 4.3 yards per carry when running the ball, including a 23 yard scamper for a Touchdown in Week One against the LA Chargers. I say all of that to say, Burrow is only going to get more comfortable and confident as the weeks go on. He’s shown the ability to protect the ball as much as he can.
The Eagles front seven will need to provide some pressure if they plan on containing an all out aerial attack. They also have to contend with a top ten back in Joe Mixon. Signed to a 4 year, 48 Million dollar extension this offseason, Mixon can hurt the Eagles in a variety of ways. Look for the Bengals to try and establish a run game in order to ease up on the amount of times they throw the ball early on. Let’s not forget about eight year veteran Giovani Bernard, who will come in and provide a receiving threat on 3rd downs.
The Bengals showcase some decent pass catching targets as we wrap up the offense. Veteran A. J. Green, rising star Tyler Boyd, former first round pick and NFL 40-time champ John Ross, and rookie Tee Higgins should provide some excitement through the air. This Eagles secondary will have its hands full for the second straight week.
Keys to an Eagles Victory
So, how do the Eagles make sure they stop this offense? It all starts up front. When you have three of the top ten highest paid Defensive Tackles in the NFL on your D-Line, you have to create havoc for opposing Quarterbacks. Given the Bengals have arguably the worst Offensive Line in the league, this should be the week the Eagles feast. Although Defensive End Fletcher Cox is questionable to play, Javon Hargrave and Malik Jackson will attack the weak Bengals O-Line all afternoon. While the Philly D has given up an average of 32 points per game, look for this defense to finally show up.
Looking at the Bengals Defense as a whole, it leaves much to be desired. With the Eagles offense struggling in its first two games, one would expect a true bounce back performance in Week three. Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz has played below average this season. He snapped his 17 games with a Passing Touchdown last week. Costly mistakes and poor decision making from the former First Rounder have made Weeks One and Two an uphill climb. Look for Wentz to be more sharp in Week Three, hitting on throws and an overall better performance.
Eagles second year Running Back Miles Sanders looks to top his Week Two showing where he combined for 131 total yards and a touchdown. Easing back into the lineup looked like a piece of cake for the former Penn State Nittany Lion. I expect Sanders to have a huge game, exposing a weak Bengals defense.
The Eagles will once again rely on heavy 12 personnel offensive sets. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert will most likely emerge as top targets for Wentz and the offense. This Eagles team lead the NFL last season in 12 personnel, and it would shock me if they did not lean on it again in this game. With Alshon Jeffery unavailable once again, and rookie WR Jalen Reagor on IR, Philly will deploy OL’ reliable and run heavy two Tight End sets for most of the game. Look for both Ertz and Goedert to have an impactful game.
Insurmountable leads against both The Washington Football Team and The LA Rams have left the Eagles at an 0-2 record. Bottom line, The Cincinnati Bengals come to town with nothing to lose. No pressure sits on them to come out and perform well. Being that Bengals coach Zac Taylor is a disciple of the Sean McVay coaching tree, one would think he might gameplan similarly. As the clock ticks down to game day, this Eagles team cannot take Cincy lightly. They will fight from the first whistle until the last. As long as this Eagles team can contain the Bengals offense, and have a great game against a below average Defense, they should most certainly come away victorious. We can only hope the Philadelphia Eagles play well and don’t get caught in a potential trap game.
(Header Pic Credit: Philadelphiaeagles.com)