Domowitch's Eagles-Bengals Scouting Report

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The Bengals will be without star wideout A.J. Green, here going against the Eagles in 2012 game at the Linc.

Recent history: Bengals defeated the Eagles, 34-13, at the Linc on Dec. 13, 2012. Cincinnati leads the series, which began in 1971, 8-3-1.

WHEN THE EAGLES RUN THE BALL

The Eagles, who had one of the league's highest run-play percentages in their first six games (45.4), have had to throw the ball far more than they've wanted in recent weeks. They have a 37.2 run-play percentage over the last five games. They had just 18 rushing attempts vs. the Packers. When they have to run, they've been pretty good. They're averaging 4.9 yards per carry over the last three games and 4.3 for the season. With Ryan Mathews sidelined with a knee injury and Darren Sproles playing with a fractured rib, rookie Wendell Smallwood will be the primary ballcarrier. He's averaging 4.4 yards per carry. In 66 carries, he has 14 first downs, eight runs of 10 yards or more and just three carries that have lost yards. The Bengals are 28th in run defense (120.5) and 26th in opponent rush average (4.4). Five of their last eight opponents have averaged 4.5 yards per carry or more.

EDGE: Eagles

WHEN THE EAGLES PASS THE BALL

The Eagles have gotten little production from their outside receivers, so slot receiver Jordan Matthews, tight end Zach Ertz and running back Darren Sproles have been Carson Wentz's go-to receivers. They've accounted for 53.8 percent of the Eagles' receptions, 51.6 percent of their receiving first downs and 69.1 percent of their third-down catches. The one guy who is starting to change that is Dorial Green-Beckham. DGB has been targeted 18 times in the last two games and has 11 catches for 136 yards. Nine of those 11 catches have been for first downs. After a red-hot start, Wentz has come back to earth. He had a 103.5 passer rating in his first four starts, throwing 7 TDs and just one INT. In his last seven starts, he has a 72.9 rating with four TDs and seven interceptions. The Bengals have been just OK vs. the pass and have just 21 sacks.

EDGE: Bengals

WHEN THE BENGALS RUN THE BALL

The Bengals have been a middle-of-the-pack running team. They are 14th in rushing yards per game (108.8) and 19th in rushing average (4.1). A season-ending injury to Giovani Bernard two weeks ago (torn ACL) was a big blow. He's a versatile back who was a big part of the passing game and also complemented 6-1, 235-pound power back Jeremy Hill. Hill is averaging 4.4 yards per carry this season, but has just nine runs of 10 yards or more in 147 carries. Quarterback Andy Dalton can move the chains with his feet when he needs to. He is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has 15 rushing first downs on 37 carries. The Eagles' run defense is better than its league ranking (17th). They gave up 230 rushing yards to the Redskins in Week 6, 187 to the Cowboys in Week 8 and a 72-yard touchdown run to Seattle's C.J. Prosise two weeks ago. Other than that, though, they've played the run pretty well.

EDGE: Eagles

WHEN THE BENGALS PASS THE BALL

Injuries to WR A.J. Green and RB Giovani Bernard have hurt the passing game. Green was one of the league's best wideouts. In the nine games before he got hurt, Green had been targeted 99 times by QB Andy Dalton and had 66 catches for 964 yards. No other Bengals receiver has been targeted more than 64 times. Brandon LaFell is a competent No. 2 receiver, but with Green out, he is being asked to play a role he's not equipped for. In the two games since Green went down, LaFell's been targeted 18 times, but has just seven catches for 70 yards and no touchdowns. Dalton is 19th in the league in passing (89.7). He has a 69.9 passer rating in the last three games, including a 55.0 completion percentage. He is 28th in the league in touchdown percentage with just 12 TDs in 408 attempts. The Eagles have just six sacks in the last five games and got roughed up badly by Aaron Rodgers.

EDGE: Eagles

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Eagles have owned kickoffs. They are first in the league in kickoff return average (31.2) and second in kickoff coverage (17.9). They are first in both average drive start after KOs (28.3) and opponent average drive start after KOs (22.2). With the exception of an onside kick and an end-of-the-half squib kick, the Eagles haven't allowed a kickoff to be advanced beyond the 26-yard line. They'll face one of the league top KRs in rookie Alex Erickson, who is second in KR average (30.1) and has 85- and 64-yard returns this season. Darren Sproles is fourth in PR average (14.1). Eagles PK Caleb Sturgis is having a solid season. He has made 25 of 29 FG attempts. He is 6-for-7 from 48-plus yards, including a pair of 50-yarders and a career-best 55-yarder. Bengals PK Mike Nugent has missed four of his last eight PATs, as well as three of his last five FG attempts.

EDGE: Eagles

INTANGIBLES

It won't be nearly as loud and hostile in Cincinnati as it was in Seattle two weeks ago, but it's still a road game. And the Eagles have never won in Cincinnati (0-3-1). The Eagles are 1-5 away from the Linc this season. They've been outscored 48-9 in the first quarter on the road. The one consolation is that the Bengals haven't exactly been killing it at home. They're 2-2 at Paul Brown Stadium.

EDGE: Bengals

Domo's prediction: Bengals 24, Eagles 17

KEY MATCHUPS

1. Eagles DE Brandon Graham vs. Bengals RTs Cedrick Ogbuehi and Eric Winston: Graham leads the Eagles in sacks and hurries. Ogbuehi, the Bengals' 2015 first-round pick, has been playing so poorly they're rotating him with veteran Eric Winston. Advantage: Eagles

2. Eagles RT Allen Barbre vs. Bengals LDE Carlos Dunlap: Barbre is making just his third start at RT in seven seasons. Dunlap had 13 1/2 sacks last season and has a team-high 6 1/2 this season. Advantage: Bengals

3. Eagles RB Wendell Smallwood vs. Bengals LBs Vontaze Burfict and Karlos Dansby: Smallwood, who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, could get 15-20 carries against the Bengals. Advantage: Bengals

Hot and Not

HOT

Eagles: WR Dorial Green-Beckham. Has 11 catches in the last two games, 9 for first downs.

Bengals: KR Alex Erickson. Is second in the NFL in KR average (30.1).

NOT

Eagles: DT Fletcher Cox. He hasn't had a QB sack in seven games.

Bengals: PK Mike Nugent. He's missed four of his last eight PATs.


pdomo@aol.com

@Pdomo Blog: philly.com/Eaglesblog

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