For one of these teams, this game matters. For the other, it's nothing more than a game of "pride" (if that still means anything in today's day and age). Let's dig into the Thursday Night Football affair and see what's what.
This is an interesting point spread to break down. A week ago the Bengals were -4 favorites in the Vegas look-ahead line. After what happened over the weekend, the books re-opened it at -3. That's a pretty significant adjustment as they went off one key number and onto another. The betting markets disagreed and money has consistently come in on the favorite since Sunday. Right now it sits at -4 to -5, depending on where you shop (odds from SBRforum).
Cincinnati blew a game they had control of in Week 14. Ironically, they folded in the "make or break" moments after thriving in these areas during their win streak. It can't help that the Bengals have been one of the worst prime-time performing teams over the last five years (winless) either. Those were different teams obviously, but the organizational structure is the same. As good as they can be at times, Cincy have not cultivated a "winning" culture under this regime.
Nick Foles shows promise, but now he faces the best pass rushing team in the NFL as Cincy leads the league with 42 sacks. We'll see how he can pick up the fire zones and blitzes. Despite his poise, he was sacked 6 times last week. Philly would be wise to reduce the number of spread formations this week. This is perhaps the biggest mismatch of the game and usually the team that wins the battle in the trenches, also walks away with the "W".
Last season, the Eagles were dead and out of it after November, but rallied to become a point spread covering machine in December. A repeat this year? Given the lame duck status of Andy Reid and cloud of limbo hanging over the roster, trend carefully with any assumptions.
For the Eagles to have any chance in this one, they have to prove that last week wasn't a "one-off". They actually quit on the season earlier, so they may feel content to cruise the rest of the way now that they got a win under their belts. My numbers say the Bengals should be favored by -5, but that's not enough of an edge for me to get involved. I'm sitting this one out, but the Bengals would be my play if I had to choose a side. The Eagles are simply not a team I want anything to do with right now. They are 0-5-1 against the spread at home, while the Bengals are 4-2 ATS on the road.