The Eagles, after all, are the only team in the NFC East out of the playoff race—and at 4-9, they're way out of it. They have a rookie quarterback playing in Michael Vick's absence. They've been decimated by injuries.
The Bengals, on the other hand, still have hope—a little bit of it. They're only two games off Baltimore's lead in the AFC North, though after Sunday's meltdown, their chances of stringing together three straight wins to close out the season seem far less likely.
Still, there are several reasons to watch Thursday's matchup. Here are some of them. For the complete Thursday night schedule, click here.
1. The Bengals Aren't Dead Yet
A month ago, it seemed as though the Bengals' season was over. After starting off the season 3-1, they suffered four consecutive losses—two of which came against respectable teams in Pittsburgh and Denver, and two of which came at the hands of Miami and Cleveland.
But ever since that losing streak, things have been going remarkably well for Cincinnati, for the most part. For one thing, in four straight wins over the Giants, the Chiefs, the Raiders and the Chargers, their defense was excellent, allowing an average of just 10.5 points per game. Their offense seemed to be coming together, too.
Then, last week's 20-19 loss to Dallas happened to screw everything up. The Bengals went into the fourth quarter with a 19-10 lead and allowed 10 unanswered points to suffer the heartbreaking defeat.
Still, this team has proven it can bounce back from bad losses, and if it keeps winning, it still has a shot at the postseason.
2. The Eagles Just Won a Game
On Sunday, for the first time since Week 4, the Philadelphia Eagles got a win, taking down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-21 to halt an embarrassing eight-game losing streak. Though it seemed for a long time that this team was completely over playing football in 2012, they showed some toughness and heart in Week 15, proving that they're not just going to roll over for the remainder of the schedule.
What's more, this defense looked good enough (granted, against Tampa Bay) on Sunday that it could pose a threat to the Bengals this week. It held the Bucs scoreless through the first half, and though it fell apart a little bit toward the end of the game, Nick Foles picked up the team with some much-needed offense.
Speaking of Nick Foles, he's coming off a pretty remarkable outing in which he threw two touchdowns in the last four minutes to lead the Eagles to victory, becoming just the third rookie QB in history to register 350 passing yards, two passing TDs and zero picks in an game, according to ESPN. It will be exciting to see if his heroics will carry over into this week.
3. Can the Bengals Hold Strong Mentally?
Rebounding from last week's loss is going to be tough for Cincinnati—not only because it was their first in five games, but also because this team blew a big opportunity to gain some ground in the division standings. Pittsburgh and Baltimore both lost on Sunday, and if the Bengals had won, it would have put them ahead of the Steelers and just a single game behind the Ravens in the AFC North.
And to make matters worse, offensive and defensive collapses at the very end of the game were to blame for the loss. Not only did Cincinnati's defense allow 10 points in the final 6:35 of the game, but the Bengals had one last chance to put the game away before Dallas' final possession, and it only managed to run five plays—and the drive ended with a sack.
Will knowing how bad they blew it on Sunday hurt the Bengals as they take the field on a short week? And will the Eagles be able to take advantage? Or does this team have the resilience to rebound?
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