2011 Record: 9-7
Overall Series Record: 3-7-1
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 0-1
Last Meeting: November 16, 2008 – Eagles 13, Bengals 13
Game Recap: 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.
Key Offseason Moves
In: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, G Kevin Zeitler, DT Devon Still, WR Mohamad Sanu, CB Jason Allen, G Travelle Wharton, LB Manny Lawson, T Anthony Collins, S Reggie Nelson
Out: DE Frostee Rucker, DE Jonathan Fanene, G Nate Livings, WR Andre Caldwell
Perhaps the league's biggest surprise playoff participant in 2011, the Bengals rode their impressive rookie duo of quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green on offense and the league's seventh-ranked defense to a wild card berth. By the time they come to Philadelphia for this Week 15 Thursday night tilt, Dalton and Green will have almost another full year of experience under their belt.
The Eagles are 3-1 on Thursday Night games under Andy Reid, with the lone loss coming on the road last season in Seattle with Vince Young under center. The last time they had a Thursday nighter at home was two seasons ago and it was also a December contest as the Eagles dispatched of the Houston Texans 34-24.
While it may be silly to predict what the Bengals roster will look like eight months from now, we do know that, if healthy, Green will be a priority for the Eagles defense. Last year's fourth overall pick, Green burst onto the scene with 1,057 yards receiving as a rookie, leading all first-year players and earning himself a Pro Bowl berth. At 6-4, 211, Green is a matchup nightmare, though the Eagles are as well suited as anyone to try to handle the dynamic former Georgia Bulldog.
Former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis takes over as the primary running back after the team moved on from plodding veteran Cedric Benson. Green-Ellis isn't a gamebreaker by any means, but he is trustworthy as he has notably never fumbled in his professional career. Dalton, though, will be the key for the Bengals and for opposing defenses. After a strong rookie year, the question is whether Dalton will take a step forward or whether the league will adjust to him and he suffers the occasional Sophomore Slump.
The Bengals defense was quite a force in 2011, ranking fourth in yards allowed per play and among the top ten in both rush and pass defense. The rushing defense was a tad more liberal with their yards allowed, which could open the door for a heavy dose of LeSean McCoy on a short week's rest.
The Bengals bolstered their defense further in the draft, adding first-round cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama and second-round defensive tackle Devon Still. Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler was the team's second of two first-round picks and is expected to open the season as the starting right guard. The Bengals' deep draft class also includes Rutgers wide receiver Mohamad Sanu, who could be an emerging complement to Green by the time Week 15 comes around.
As for the effect of the Thursday night date on the home team, the Eagles surely won't be looking past a playoff team like the Bengals. But while they'll be saddled by a short week of preparation following a trip to Tampa Bay, they won't complain about the extra time to prepare and rest for a closing two-game stretch against NFC East rivals. Of course, that extra time tastes exponentially sweeter if it's on the back end of a victory.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider.