Eagles at Bengals
1 p.m. Sunday on FOX
Pick-em; over/under 42
In the easiest of the Eagles' five remaining games, they're on the road to face a desperate Bengals team and a head coach trying to avoid getting fired.
The way the Birds have played and coached lately, no game is a gimme. It's telling that the Eagles aren't favored against a 3-7-1 Bengals team missing its two most explosive playmakers.
No A.J. or Gio
The first player that comes to mind when you mention the Bengals is All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green, who will miss Week 13 with a hamstring injury. Green hasn't yet been officially ruled out, but considering the most movement he's done since the injury is a light walk, he's not playing Sunday.
This is obviously a huge benefit for the Eagles because defending Green requires a double-team on most plays and almost always a safety over the top.
In the same game the Bengals lost Green, they also lost Giovani Bernard, their version of Darren Sproles. Andy Dalton likely would have relied even more on Bernard in the short passing game with Green out, but the RB tore his ACL in Week 11 without anyone noticing until afterward.
Thus, Cincinnati is a much simpler team to defend this week. With Green and Bernard out, the Bengals skill players to worry most about are tight end Tyler Eifert and speedy second-round WR Tyler Boyd.
Eifert, finally healthy after a series of injuries late last season and in the offseason, has 20 catches for 303 yards and two TDs in his last four games.
Boyd, in the two games without Green, has 11 catches for 116 yards and a TD.
Better than their record?
The Bengals haven't won since Week 7 — Oct. 23 against the Browns. Since then, they tied the Redskins in London, lost to the Giants by one point, the Bills by four and the Ravens by five. Cincinnati has been competitive in games, just unable to finish.
At this point, you can't reasonably call the Eagles a better team than the Ravens, Giants or Redskins ... and maybe even the Bills.
So yes, this is a 3-win team the Eagles are facing, but in reality it's about an even match, especially with Cincy's holding home-field advantage.
Wentz and Dalton
Last season was by far the best of Dalton's six-year career, but he's been just mediocre in 2016. With many more weapons than Carson Wentz has, Dalton has similar stats across the board.
Dalton's completed 63.5 percent of his passes, averaged 7.5 yards per attempt, thrown 12 TDs and six INTs, and has a QB rating of 89.7.
Wentz has completed 63.5 percent of his passes, averaged 6.6 yards per attempt, thrown 11 TDs and eight INTs, and has a QB rating of 83.4.
But Wentz is a rookie with the worst wide receiver group this side of Chicago. Dalton is an experienced quarterback in a familiar system with running backs and pass-catchers he's shared the field with for several years.
Affecting Dalton with pressure should be easier than doing the same to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is a master of getting the ball out quickly, and his offensive line has afforded him time all season. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers has been given 2.6 seconds or more in the pocket 49 percent of the time. Dalton has gotten that much protection just 36 percent of the time, one of the lowest figures in the NFL.
And, per PFF, Dalton has been sacked 23 percent of the time he's been pressured — the highest rate in the NFL. (For reference, that's double the rate of Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins.)
The Eagles, who have just six sacks total in their last five games, should be able to get home on Sunday. Brandon Graham, their best edge rusher, has a juicy matchup against 2015 first-round right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who has allowed eight sacks and 29 QB hurries this season.
Can Nelson Agholor, after spectating on Monday Night Football, do the unthinkable and have a positive impact on the game?
Going to go out on a limb here and say ... yes. Jordan Matthews (ankle) is banged up, so Wentz might not look his way as often as usual. And pass coverage is the weakness of this Bengals defense. The Bengals' top three corners — Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Shaw — are decent, but not spectacular.
It's also another game where, at least on paper, utilizing Zach Ertz makes sense. The Bengals have been one of the NFL's worst defenses against tight ends, allowing the fourth-most receiving yards (760) and fifth-most touchdowns (six).
That's owed in large part to the struggles in coverage of linebackers Vontaze Burfict, Karlos Dansby and Rey Maualuga. Burfict and Maualuga are bigger LBs who are better against the run; Dansby has long been one of the better coverage LBs, but he's 35 years old.
Heck, hometown kid Brent Celek might even get involved. Celek hasn't been a part of the Eagles' offense at all, catching just seven passes all season and averaging 4.4 yards per game the last nine weeks.
The over/under is just 42 and I'm not expecting a whole lot of points.
The Eagles are reeling, the Bengals are reeling, but when it comes down to it the Eagles enter this game healthier and should be able to keep Cincy's offense in check.
Eifert is the Bengals' most dangerous weapon at the moment and the Eagles have been pretty good defending the seam with Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham and the safeties.
Eagles 20, Bengals 16