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Previewing The Bengals

Posted Dec 13, 2012

The wait, and the losing, is finally over. After suffering through eight consecutive losses, the Eagles snapped their skid last Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay as rookie starting quarterback Nick Foles played his best game of the season and led the offense on a thrilling game-winning drive that featured the go-ahead touchdown as time expired. It was a banner day for Foles, who had to carry the load without much of a running game and in the face of constant pressure. All he did was account for over 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns while leading the team to an emotional win. Now, though, the task for the Eagles is to rebound from success and wipe the slate clean ahead with a quick turnaround ahead of Thursday night’s nationally televised matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. Like they did against the Bucs last week, the Eagles are charged with playing the role of spoiler against a 7-6 Bengals team that is right in the mix of the playoff race.

The Bengals are currently 7-6, tied in record with the Pittsburgh Steelers. At present, the Steelers own the rights to the second and final wildcard spot because they hold the tiebreaker over Cincinnati, though the two teams meet next week -- meaning that the Bengals control their own destiny with three games remaining. Both teams are one game ahead of the 6-7 New York Jets. So the stakes are sky-high for the Bengals on Thursday night as they come into Lincoln Financial Field on the heels of a disappointing last-second 19-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. The well-rounded Bengals boast a top-10 defense and a top-15 offense and feature a pair of star players in wide receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Green, the unreal second-year receiver, ranks sixth in the league with 1,151 receiving yards thus far and leads all receivers with 10 touchdowns. Atkins has been the most disruptive interior force in the NFL and leads all defensive tackles with 10.5 sacks. But who and what else will determine the outcome Thursday night? Let’s take a look …

Last Time They Met:
November 16, 2008 – Eagles 13, Bengals 13

Yes, now we all know ties are allowed in football. Many forget that the Eagles had to rally just to make it to overtime in this infamous trip to Cincinnati as they scored the last 10 points of the game in the second half. But, of course, neither team could muster enough offense in the extra frame and the Eagles fell to 5-4-1, though they would rebound with a stunning late-season run to the playoffs.

Tale Of The Tape (2012 Stats)
Bengals Eagles
Record 7-6 4-9
Points Scored Per Game 24.7 (11th in NFL) 18.5 (T-27)
Total Yards Per Game 355.2 (15) 362.9 (11)
Rushing Yards Per Game 117.5 (14) 125.5 (9)
Passing Yards Per Game 237.8 (14) 237.4 (15)
Points Allowed Per Game 21.5 (T-13) 26.2 (25)
Total Yards Allowed Per Game 328.0 (6) 348.6 (14)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game 105.5 (11) 119.3 (17)
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game 222.5 (10) 229.3 (15)
Turnover Ratio 0 (T-14) -19 (31)

Players To Watch

WR A.J. Green

Don’t let his lack of NFL experience fool you – A.J. Green has emerged as one of the best wide receivers in the game. The 6-4, 207 pound wideout was drafted fourth overall by Cincinnati in 2011 and rewarded the Bengals by catching 65 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns last season, earning a Pro Bowl nod along the way. This year, he has stepped up his game and has 79 catches for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Green started the season on a tear by scoring at least one touchdown in nine consecutive games this season. But those numbers have come to a screeching halt recently, as Green has been held scoreless for the last three weeks. The secondary played one of its better games of the season last week against the Buccaneers, but they’ll need to improve on that performance if they want to stop the ever-dangerous Green.

TE Clay Harbor

Tight end Clay Harbor has spent the majority of the season out of the spotlight. But after Brent Celek was concussed on the first play of the game last Sunday, Harbor stepped up in a big way. Harbor hadn’t caught more than three passes all season, but he finished the day with a career-high six catches for 52 yards and a critical fourth quarter touchdown.

With Celek ailing, Harbor will be asked to start against the Bengals and help the Eagles get their second win in 10 days. In 14 games this season, Harbor has 22 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns, but it’s worth noting that both scores came in critical moments. The first was a game-winning touchdown catch against the Browns in Week 1 and the second came as the Eagles were rallying in the fourth quarter last week. Harbor is no stranger to big moments, and the Eagles would love a few more from Harbor on Thursday night.

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