Inter-conference games are great opportunities for players to match up against others they don’t normally play against. The rosters of the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles look vastly different now than how they did when they last played in 2016, so most of the players are getting their first chance to play against the other team.
These are the matchups we’re most excited to watch on Sunday.
Drew Sample vs. Nathan Gerry
If you played against Rams tight end Tyler Higbee in your fantasy league last week, Nathan Gerry is who you should be frustrated at. Gerry put on his best Bengals linebacker impression by getting roasted all three times he was targeted in coverage against the Los Angeles Rams. Two of Higbee’s three touchdowns came against Gerry, who was beaten easily for each of them.
Sunday will be Drew Sample’s first true start of his young career. With C.J. Uzomah out for the year with a torn Achilles, Sample’s involvement in the passing game will be increased as the offense’s No. 1 tight end. Expect Sample to get matched up with Gerry a few times for this game.
Michael Jordan vs. Malik Jackson
It’s unclear whether or not Fletcher Cox will be playing after the Eagles listed him as questionable on Friday. Lucky for them, Malik Jackson has been more than holding his own next to him. Jackson ranks first in pass-rushing win rate for defensive tackles through two weeks, which is further validated with his 79.9 pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus.
Jackson has only taken 10 snaps from the left side of the defensive line this season, so he’s almost exclusively gone up against the opposing left guard. This puts Michael Jordan in the spotlight to slow him down as much as possible. Jordan has been shaky at best in pass protection through two weeks, and his struggles to anchor and mirror off of the snap will be tested against Jackson.
Carlos Dunlap vs. Lane Johnson
When Lane Johnson is healthy, it’s hard to name a better right tackle than him in football. Johnson made his debut last week against the Rams and registered perfect 100% pass block win rate and a 83% run block win rate. It’s going to take an incredible performance from whomever goes against him when he’s on his game.
Carlos Dunlap showed last season he’s capable of playing that level late last season, but he’s been off to a slow start in 2020. Dunlap will get his shots against Jason Peters on the other side of the formation as well, but Johnson is the guy he needs to get through for most of the game. Cincinnati needs Dunlap to step up with Geno Atkins still out with a shoulder injury.
William Jackson III vs. Desean Jackson
A big component of the Eagles’ offensive woes has been their receivers. They only have four healthy players at the position with Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery both out. Jackson is the only reliable wideout quarterback Carson Wentz has to work with, and while that’s no excuse for Wentz’s personal issues, it compounds onto the problem.
Jackson should see another Jackson line up across from him plenty in this game. William Jackson had an up-and-down game against the Browns last week with an interception and a touchdown allowed. If he lets Jackson stack him on his vertical routes, it could be the key to the Eagles soaring past the Bengals defense. Jackson’s had a good start to his contract year; he can’t slip up this week.