In the first of their four NFC East matchups, the Cincinnati Bengals will travel to the City of Brotherly Love to play the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday. As it is with every inter-conference game, this is the first time the two teams have played in four years. And a lot has changed for both franchises.
While 2016 was the start of Cincinnati’s newest playoff drought, it served as the launch point of a surprise Super Bowl window for Philadelphia. The Eagles would go on to hoist the Lombardi Trophy a year later after a 7-9 2016 season placed them last in the NFC East. One of those nine losses was a 32-14 defeat to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium thanks to a poor showing from rookie quarterback Carson Wentz that featured three interceptions and just 5.1 yards per attempt.
Fast forward to now and Wentz is playing at about that level again. His 44.0 offense grade from Pro Football Focus has been the primary component to the Eagles’ surprising 0-2 start. They are the worst team in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, and the Bengals aren’t too far ahead in the 27th spot. Only this time, they’re the ones with a starting rookie quarterback.
Joe Burrow has already convinced plenty of NFL eyes that he’s indeed the real deal, but an 0-2 record doesn’t have the 23-year old Burrow sitting on any high horses. Factoring in all the positives and negatives from his first 112 drop backs, the most of any rookie quarterback from Weeks 1-2 of any season in the last 15 years, Burrow has met most expectations. The same cannot be said about his No. 1 receiver A.J. Green and the team’s overhauled defense, which were both outmatched in last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Is Green as washed as some believe him to be and is the defense just not good enough to compete yet? This matchup should give us the answers we desire. The Eagles have a weak secondary for Green to expose and Wentz’s aforementioned struggles should provide the pass rush many chances to get home.
The Bengals haven’t lost to the Eagles since Christmas Eve of the year 2000. Will they avoid the tumultuous 0-3 start and get head coach Zac Taylor his third career victory? Follow this stream for all the latest news, updates and analysis of the game!