The Eagles (0-2) are hosting the Bengals (0-2) at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday at 1 p.m.
To the predictions:
Reuben Frank (0-2)
No idea what to expect from Carson Wentz, but I do like the two matchups up front, even with the injuries the Eagles are dealing with on both lines. I expect the Eagles to hammer the rock on the ground against a Bengals defense that’s already allowed 370 yards in two games and dominate a Cincinnati pass rush that has only two sacks this year. And I expect the Eagles’ d-line to dominate a weak Bengals offensive line that’s allowed six sacks and is producing just 3.7 yards per carry. The Eagles need to get back to leaning on their two lines, which even without Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo and Andre Dillard on offense and Vinny Curry and potentially Fletcher Cox on defense are still the strength of this team. If Doug remembers to keep running the ball and the defense can stop Joe Mixon and pressure Joe Burrow, I don't think it'll be close. But ... this is the 2020 Eagles, so it'll be close and the Eagles are going to scare everybody before finally winning.
Eagles 23, Bengals 19
Dave Zangaro (0-2)
The offensive recipe for this game should be pretty simple. Get back to basics. Doug Pederson needs to run the ball against the Bengals’ porous run defense and let that set up the pass. Carson Wentz has been an absolute mess, so the head coach needs to call plays Wentz is comfortable with. To me, that means getting him moving and into a rhythm.
On defense, the Eagles might have their hands full with Joe Burrow. He’s a rookie but he hasn’t played like one so far. He has a high ceiling and, as we saw last Thursday, can make some plays. But the line in front of him isn’t very good and the Eagles will have a chance to attack him all day. I think they will.
Eagles 27, Bengals 20
Ray Didinger (0-2)
It is no great surprise to check the NFL standings and see the Bengals at 0-2. The Eagles at 0-2 is a different story.
The Eagles are the reigning division champions and while the NFC East is not exactly a prestige address at the moment, it is fair to say that seeing the Eagles among the league's bottom feeders is an early season shocker. They got their doors blown off Sunday by the Rams and they are still a touchdown favorite vs. the Bengals this week. So what does that say about the Bengals?
Their defense was run over by Cleveland last week — the Browns rushed for 215 yards and three touchdowns — and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow threw the ball 61 times. If it keeps up this way, the poor kid won't make it through the season. The Eagles hardly sniffed Jared Goff last Sunday so the D-line has to pick it up this week, with or without Fletcher Cox. My hunch is they will.
The Bengals usually give the Eagles problems (they own a 9-3-1 advantage in the series) but not this week.
Eagles 30, Bengals 21
Barrett Brooks (1-1)
Make or break is an understatement for the Eagles this week! An 0-3 start would leave this team and its fanbase thinking more about draft position than playoff position.
It's time for this entire team to get back to basics. Crossing T's and dotting I's is the only game plan needed for installation this week. Football fundamentals are the same at every level. Blocking, tackling, covering, kicking, catching and even throwing never change. It’s basic football and the Eagles lack some of the basic attention to details that win games.
On defense, play within the framework of the play called. If it’s man-to-man coverage, cover you guy. If your guy goes to get a drink, hand him the cup! Don’t try to be a hero and do more than your own job. That’s when mistakes get made. Most of all, remember that your coordinator, Jim Schwartz, fell on the sword and took the blame after a pitiful defensive performance against the Rams. Repay the coach with total effort and play up to expectations. Hustle from whistle to whistle, and no loafing.
Offensively, Carson Wentz has to turn this team around. Accuracy and timing are the keys to the passing game. Sure, someone needs to step up in the absence of Jalen Reagor (who was already emerging as the team’s No. 1 wideout), but ultimately Wentz must play better! He will on Sunday.
Eagles 28, Bengals 10
Mike Mulhern (0-2)
There’s no denying that Carson Wentz’s play so far this season has been problematic, to put it kindly. Rather than sounding the alarm bells for Jalen Hurts in week three though, the prudent step is to admit that the 137-million dollar man is just extremely inconsistent. I don’t expect Wentz to play like one of the worst statistical quarterbacks for an entire season, but on the flip side, you’re kidding yourself if you think the 2017 MVP candidate is showing up every Sunday. Wentz can still play at an elite level — maybe not as frequently as the organization had hoped — but it’s clear there’s a ton of volatility in his performance from week to week.
That’s where the Bengals come in. They were gashed on the ground a week ago by the Browns, which opened things up for Baker Mayfield. A similar recipe should be in store for the Eagles. Heavy doses of Miles Sanders to set up shots down the field. That should allow Carson to get comfortable and not feel like the entire game is on his shoulders from the start.
My bigger fear is on the other side of the ball. Joe Burrow is the real deal. He’s got poise beyond his years and all the tools to be a perennial Pro Bowler. Yet, he’s playing behind a beleaguered offensive line that struggled to keep Cleveland defenders at bay. The Eagles pass rush has to get home. Send extra defenders if you must. I think they make the rookie uncomfortable enough to come away with a win.
Eagles 24, Bengals 13