Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-2)
The Eagles’ season has gotten off to a terrible start, as not only are they 0-2, but they’re also tied with the Jets with the 2nd lowest first down rate differential in the league at -28. The Eagles were injury ravaged in week 1, missing right tackle Lane Johnson and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, among others, but they still lost by double digits to a Washington team that is one of the worst in the league and then they got blown out at home by the Rams in week 2, even though Johnson and Hargrave had returned. Part of the problem has been their league worst -5 turnover margin, which is a metric that tends to be inconsistent week-to-week, but they also rank 26th in first down rate differential at -5.58%, so their issues go far beyond the turnover margin.
The Eagles should be better going forward, if only because Carson Wentz is unlikely to be one of the worst quarterbacks in the league all season, but even if he bounces back, this team has real weaknesses on both sides of the ball, as Wentz’s growing cap hit has made it tougher to them to keep talent at positions like linebacker, safety, and running back, while their offensive line is missing both starting guards due to injury and their receiving corps is banged up as well.
The Eagles face another 0-2 team this week, a less surprising 0-2 team as the Bengals are coming off a season in which they finished 2-14 and had the worst record in the league. The Bengals were better than that record suggested, with 8 of their losses coming by 8 points or fewer in 2019, primarily due to a defense that is better than you’d think, and their offense should be better this season with #1 overall pick Joe Burrow taking over under center and getting back top wide receiver AJ Green and left tackle Jonah Williams, who both missed all of 2019 with injury, but the Bengals are still unlikely to win many games and their defense has struggled early in the season, likely in large part due to the continued absence of defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
If the Eagles play like they have, the Bengals could steal this one in Philadelphia, especially with the Eagles having limited homefield advantage, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles bounced back this week, with Carson Wentz likely to work through his issues at some point. I have this line calculated at Philadelphia -3, so we’re getting line value with the Bengals at +4.5, but not enough for them to be worth betting against a desperate Eagles team that is used to making playoff appearances.
Philadelphia Eagles 23 Cincinnati Bengals 20
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +4.5