The Eagles are just a few hours away from a showdown with the Bengals and what could be the beginning or the end of their playoff push. A lot rides on this game and with the team expected to be without their number one receiver, there’s a lot of pressure on Carson Wentz to deliver against a team in complete desperation. So what does this mean for out five bold predictions series?
After a disappointing week against the Packers, we’re now 17/45. Our hot start has seemingly cooled right down, so it’s time to put the cake back in the Oven!
Wendell Smallwood’s breakout:
Without Ryan Mathews and a potentially limited Darren Sproles, the success of the Eagles rushing attack will once again fall on the shoulders of Wendell Smallwood. For the rookie, this is a chance to cement a bigger role in a crowded backfield that currently lacks an overall shape.
Through a string of injuries, Smallwood has been relied upon more and more over the last few weeks, accounting 155 yards and 4.4 yards per carry in his last three games. The coaching staff continue to build confidence and Smallwood continues to deliver..which only bodes well against a Defense surrendering an average 120 rushing yards per game.
Out first bold prediction is for Smallwood to enjoy his best game of the season, rushing for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Jordan Matthews is expected to be absent today due to an ankle injury suffered against Green Bay, which will see Nelson Agholor return to the team after missing last week.
Agholor’s play has been concerning and inconsistent this season, but after a week away from the ever increasing spotlight and now with a direct need for production from the former first round pick, it will be interesting to see both what role Agholor takes on in his return and how he performs.
The second bold prediction of the day is for Agholor, like Smallwood, to have his biggest game of the year. After putting in plenty of extra reps in practice and overcoming his problems, it’s time to see if Agholor can flash the talent we all believe he possesses in a situation where Wentz will need to see it. We’re predicting that Agholor will receive for 100 yards and record his second touchdown of the year.
Run Defense finds stride:
The Eagles run Defense has fallen in the overall rankings in recent weeks. They were once ranked second behind only Baltimore..and are now ranked as low as eighth after a strange dip in form against weak rushing attacks.
The good news for the Eagles is that the Bengals haven’t exactly established the most dangerous rushing threat in recent weeks, despite competent efforts against the Ravens and Giants, amassing 235 yards in their last three games.
My third prediction for today’s game is for the Eagles run Defense to get back to business and give up under 55 yards on the ground against the Bengals, forcing Andy Dalton to become one-dimensional.
Mills attracts the spotlight:
Leodis McKelvin had his worst game of the season against Green Bay and played under 40% of Defensive snaps overall. It didn’t take long for the Eagles to make the switch to Jalen Mills, who contrastingly had his best game of the season.
Mills has developed extremely well this season and the rookie tendencies that plagued him early on have slowly faded from his game. There are still times where he undeniably struggles..but given that he’s had to deal with Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr and Jordy Nelson to name but a few, his growth has been beyond impressive.
The one thing Mills is yet to accomplish is an interception. With the Bengals priming their Offense on passing dominance, the cornerbacks will be placed under the microscope this week and with that in mind, I’m predicting Jalen Mills to show the world what I’ve been showing in our analysis articles for weeks, that he has the potential to make the big play.
I’m predicting the former LSU leader to record his first interception along with 5 tackles in today’s game.
Trey Burton makes an impact:
When called upon this season, Trey Burton has done nothing but shine. From recording his first NFL touchdown to standing in for an injured Zach Ertz, Burton has even lined up on the outside and helped spark an Offensive fire in moments of need.
The move of Burton to the outside is something I’ve been preaching for months, but with a complete lack of receiving threats in the absence of Jordan Matthews, Burton certainly provides more experience and prowess than the two undrafted rookies who will play the majority of snaps.
Not only would Trey Burton be a mismatch nightmare in the slot, but he’s also had experience as a Florida Gator as a receiver too. A stunning training camp and some great moments this year have proven that Burton can become an impact player..and with a lack of weaponry, Doug Pederson may take a shot at exploiting that.
I’m predicting for Burton to receive for 40 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals. With all the attention being placed on Zach Ertz, it could be easier than expected for Burton to slide into the Offense unnoticed and unaccounted for, making him the perfect option for Carson Wentz considering the chemistry they built in the preseason.
Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports