NOVEMBER 16, 2008
The Bengals took the Giants into overtime before losing back in September and the Eagles went to the wire Sunday night before losing a slugfest to the Super Bowl champions. Cincinnati can make it tight again if it brings the same smashmouth mentality that allowed it to beat Jacksonville before the bye, although the chairman of the Bengals.com roundtable gives the solid edge to the Eagles.
"Yeah, they had a physical game and Cincinnati has had some rest," says The Guru, a former top football exec in the NFL. "But Philly is still in this thing at 5-4 and playing for survival. I like their defense against the inexperience of what the Bengals have at quarterback."
The Eye, an NFL scout that evaluates talent in both conferences, says the Bengals can win if they take advantage of some favorable matchups: "Run the ball on the Eagles' smallish defensive line and get their athletic wide receivers open against the blitz in the secondary. You want to keep the Eagles offense off the field because of all its variety and when you're out there you have to make sure the gimmicks with the motions and reverses don't catch you."
And if the Bengals are going to win they have to be smart because with Andy Reid calling the plays and Jim Johnson calling the defenses, the Eagles are one of the most well-coached teams in the league.
"They aren't going to sit there and pound you on either side of the ball," The Guru says. "They're going to use schemes and matchups and be aggressive."
"I think the Eagles gamble a little bit, but they're not careless in what they do," The Guru says. "Jim Johnson is a heck of a play-caller and it's because he's so experienced. Plus, he's got guys that have been with him for so long in that scheme, they understand it so well."
The Eye says Cole isn't as dominant against the run: "Trent's a great athlete. He's real explosive and has the hip snap, but it's not the same for him in the running game."
The Guru says, "The linemen get most of their sacks (19.5) of 28, so they're very good pass rushers that do what the scheme calls for and that's a lot of movement."
While the Eagles don't give up the long ball (just five longer than 34 yards), you can make some hay. They've given up the NFL's ninth most pass plays of 20 yards or more.
"They're very young at linebacker. The oldest is 25, but they're pretty athletic," The Guru says.
"They need to get more from Odom and (Robert) Geathers and the other edge guys on the pass rush," The Guru says, "but I think overall that defense has done a pretty decent job against good offenses."
The Eagles aren't exactly a power running team as evidenced by the civic disturbances caused by Reid calling two unsuccessful straight runs to Westbrook on third-and-one and fourth-and-one that sealed the loss to the Giants. The Eagles are just 4-for-11 converting third-and-one this season.
"The safeties are going to have to be aware of where this guy is at all times," The Eye says. "He could run a reverse on you, and he may spread the field on you as the quarterback. Plus, you're going to have to give the corners help if he's going to run a bomb by you."
The Bengals need a big day from Larson directionally so Jackson doesn't have the entire field with which to work.