Philadelphia Eagles (5-6 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1 SU, 3-8 ATS)
Week 13 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: PHI -1.5/CIN +1.5
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The Philadelphia Eagles come to Paul Brown Stadium to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Bengals are in really big trouble now after dropping another one on Sunday, this time to Baltimore, 19-14. They have won just once in their last seven games, something that hasn't taken place in years. The perennial postseason participant is almost certainly on the verge of being out of it, even with the first place AFC North team only 6-5. Philadelphia isn't in that much better of a spot following a MNF loss to the Packers, 27-13. They have lost 4 of 5 and are 2-6 after a promising 3-0 start to the season.
Things got off to a good start for Philly this season. The defense was in top shape with an offense that was clicking. After what was at the time a monstrous 34-3 upset of the Steelers, the Eagles went into an early bye week. What emerged was a depreciated team that lost all its mojo. A stretch of 4 road games in 5 weeks killed them, as they dropped all four games. Still, their loss to Green Bay was their first home loss of the season. It's still been a rough path to this spot for a team that was looking so good earlier in the season.
The offense hasn't been firing for Philly. On MNF, they were under 300 yards of total offense. It's been a grind for this group as of late. The run game isn't making much of an impact. The receiving crew has been very inconsistent. Jordan Matthews can be useful, but is not a number-one receiver. Zach Ertz is a good tight end and Darren Sproles can still be productive in the pass and on the ground. Dorial Green-Beckham is promising. Nelson Agholor has been a bust thus far in his second season. It's not a very inspiring group. Since week 3, they haven't surpassed 24 points in scoring. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is doing the best he can and is a promising QB. The line has lost some key pieces and is not tip-top and he has no playmakers to bail him out. This side of the ball is a big reason they have covered the spread just twice in their last eight games.
The Philadelphia defense isn't all that bad overall. They are allowing less than 20 points on the season, though of lot of that was based on their good early start. They haven't gotten better. The pass-rush has dissipated and they're making less plays. They had no sacks and no turnovers against the Packers and they're making less of a positive overall impact on the Philadelphia effort lately.
The Eagles are a team easy to underrate. In fact, despite being a five-win team, many seem to have relegated Philly to their mental scrap heap. It's easy to understand. There aren't many teams more devoid of star-power than the Eagles are on both sides of the ball. They've won twice since September, albeit against a pretty stacked schedule. They have won some blowouts this season, while struggling to close the deal in close games. They're heading the wrong way and have to take to the road to a stadium they rarely visit. Then again, they're playing a team that has a lot of their own issues to worry about.
For Cincinnati, this has to be a troubling spot mentally. They land in week 13 with a thud. This is a team accustomed to doing well and getting into the playoffs. Postseason failings aside, it's a tough pill to swallow when looking at 3-7-1 with things looking bleak with five more games to go. For what it's worth, they haven't won in their last 4 games (0-3-1) and the combined margin was just ten points. They've been close, but it's getting harder to see the silver lining at this point. And though they only lost 19-14 to the Ravens, they never really looked like they were going to win that game.
The offense hasn't really fallen off that badly for the Bengals. They haven't been very good at finishing drives. The line has been decent is spots in springing loose the run, though that's another inconsistent part of this team. The line hasn't been adept at protecting Andy Dalton, who has still managed 3043 yards passing on the season. The 12 TD passes he has thrown is pretty light considering the production. AJ Green is having a good season, but is still out with a hamstring. Tyler Eifert has great promise as a tight end, with rookie Tyler Boyd showing signs of life. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are a good RB duo that can also catch passes. Brandon LaFell is coming along in his first year as a Bengal. But despite all that, they're 3-7-1.
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The Cincy recipe for success over the years was intrinsically tied to the prowess of their defense. This team was not built to succeed with the league's 23rd-ranked defense. They've been better in recent weeks, allowing a combined 47 points in their last three games, none of which the Bengals were able to win. They are back at close to full-strength and maybe this part of the team can maintain and hope the offense gets their act together without their top playmaker.
These can be challenging games to break down. It's not that they're losing teams, but they both had higher expectations—Philly due to their 3-0 start and Cincy due to all their recent success. It could come down to which team is still expending full-effort. While neither has been shot out of a cannon lately, both teams are still trying. I like Cincy as the home dog.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Cincinnati Bengals plus 1.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Eagles vs. Bengals game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!