Every coach and player on the Bengals roster knows that an 0-2 start is not ideal, but also no reason to panic.
"At the end of the day, if we would've finished one play better or executed one play better these last two games, we would be 2-0 instead of 0-2," veteran linebacker Josh Bynes said. "We still would've had to fix the things that we need to fix, but you can work better off of 2-0 than 0-2. It's still the beginning of the season. We still got 14 more to go. We got a lot of football left. A lot of things to clean up."
The good news for the Bengals is after playing last Thursday night, the team got the extra rest and prep time needed to face an Eagles team that many predicted would win the NFC East.
Here are the three things to watch as the Bengals travel to Philadelphia for the first time in eight seasons.
1. A Revamped Run Defense – There was no question the Bengals missed the services of defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels, as well as veteran safety Shawn Williams against Cleveland in Week 2. Cincinnati ranks 30th against the run and is allowing five yards per carry.
They face another tough challenge against Philadelphia's Miles Sanders. After missing Week 1, Sanders finished with 95 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. The one area of concern though for the Eagles is their offensive line is a piecemealed group. They placed guard Isaac Seumalo on injured reserve this week and already lost standout right guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles) and left tackle Andre Dillard (pectoral) to long-term injuries this summer.
2. Rushing In The Red Zone – The Bengals need to have more success running the ball once they get into the red zone. So far this season, Joe Mixon has four rushes for five yards, Giovani Bernard has one rush for three yards and Joe Burrow has two carries for negative six yards when the team is in the red zone. That's a total of two red zone rushing yards with only one first down.
3. Win The Turnover Game – A big reason for the Eagles 0-2 start has been suffering through a league-worst minus-five turnover differential. A lot of the blame has been placed on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. In the second half of the two Eagles losses, Wentz is 23 for 44 for 214 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. His 37.5 second-half passer rating is the worst in the league.
League wide, the correlation of a positive turnover differential and winning has never been more clear. Of the 13 teams who possess a negative turnover differential, only the Buffalo Bills have a 2-0 record. In fact, the combined record of those 13 teams is 5-21.
Taylor spoke last week of the Bengals needing to generate more turnovers as a way to create momentum and win close games. "We're 0-2 in the turnover battle, too," Taylor said. "I know we lost it last week and we tied it this week, but you've got to win the turnover battle. You win the turnover battle, you win these one-score games."
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations, 700 WLW, WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7) Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst). The game also will air nationally on Compass Media Networks, with broadcasters Chris Carrino (play-by-play) and Brian Baldinger (analyst).