Thursday, December 13, 2012



The last Thursday night football game brings together two clubs headed in opposite directions.  There’s optimism in Cincinnati for a change, as the Bengals are on the cusp of a playoff birth.  The Eagles season is shot at 4-9, but even with Coach Andy Reid expected to be shown the door, the emergence of RB Bryce Brown and QB Nick Foles may give the Eagles’ fans hope just yet. 

For fantasy owners, Cedric Peerman’s ankle injury means that RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis will truly be featured in this game for the Bengals.  The Eagles still give up an average of 4.7 yards per carry though in the past three weeks against Carolina, Dallas and Tampa Bay, it’s been a lot less (3.1, 3.7 and 4.3 respectively).  Green-Ellis has rarely been the kind of runner that tears off big chunks of yards, but in the past three games he’s surpassed the longest rushes of his career repeatedly with three runs greater than 35 yards.  Though backup Brian Leonard may spell Green-Ellis a few series as he did in the Cowboys’ game, Green-Ellis is a strong play, even on the road.  Expect 95 yards and a score here.  Where the Eagles have floundered is against the pass.  Ranked 15th currently, they allow 60 percent of passes to be completed and have given up 25 passing touchdowns.  That makes them the third kindest franchise in terms of fantasy points to opposing QBs.  Andy Dalton hasn’t looked as sharp lately and that’s because the red zone efficiency hasn’t been there.  They’ve sunk from seventh to eleventh in the red zone offense just in the last couple of weeks with a combined 3-for-8 in terms of touchdowns realized.  The Eagles are a tough red zone team, ranked seventh in red zone defense, and that means Dalton again might see good yardage, but might have difficulty putting up crucial points.

Green-Ellis gets my first ever start recommendation
Meanwhile, with LeSean McCoy ruled out again, Bryce Brown faces a near top ten Cincinnati run defense, which recently has shut the door on opposing runners to the tune of less than a 100 yards per offense for three straight weeks.  The Bengals are fine having Nick Foles try to beat them, and with the Eagles still running only 39 percent of the time, Brown might get 18-20 touches but it won’t add up to anything more than 70 yards and a possible score.  The Eagles receivers are still minus DeSean Jackson, but after his one-handed palm catch Sunday, Jason Avant will certainly have the trust of his rookie QB.  He and Jeremy Maclin will have decent yardage numbers, but the Bengals have been much kinder fantasy wise to opposing tight ends.  Only eight teams have given up more yardage to that position than Cincy, and five of their fourteen passing touchdowns have been surrendered to that position.  Thus, Clay Harbor again makes a nice TE sleeper play this weekend.

Where this game differs from last week is the pass rush.  The Bengals boast one of the league’s best and the Philadelphia offensive line hasn’t assisted Foles’ cause as he was sacked six times by a Tampa Bay pass rush that had 18 sacks all season entering last Sunday’s contest.  Watch out for Geno Atkins, who has registered at least one-half sack in nine of 13 games this year.  The Bengals defense is a strong play against the rookie Foles, and they’ll force him into a couple of costly turnovers which will be the difference.