A team in the playoff hunt gets a rookie quarterback starting his fifth career game. Sounds like a gimme, right? Not when it comes to the Bengals.
In a statistic that will likely surprise you, the Cincinnati defense has performed better against veteran quarterbacks than rookie ones this season. Rookie quarterbacks have a passer rating of 98.5 in four starts against the Bengals while veteran quarterbacks have produced a 79.5 rating in nine starts.
The Bengals will try to reverse that trend Thursday night, when they play the Eagles and rookie quarterback Nick Foles. Cincinnati is 2-2 against rookie quarterbacks this season, losing the last two games against them. The Bengals have beaten Brandon Weeden and Robert Griffin III but have lost to Ryan Tannehill and Weeden (the second meeting with the Browns).
Rookie quarterbacks have completed 64.2 percent of their throws against Cincinnati this season for an average of 249.2 yards per game. They have thrown five touchdowns and one interception.
Veteran quarterbacks have connected on 63.5 percent of their passes against the Bengals with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. They average 242.3 yards passing per game.
Now the Bengals get Foles, who won his first NFL game in dramatic fashion. He threw two touchdowns in the final four minutes of a 23-21 win over Tampa Bay, including the winning, one-yard touchdown pass as time expired. Foles finished 32-of-51 for 381 yards.
"Nick Foles has come in and been productive with what they’re doing," coach Marvin Lewis said. "The thing that he’s doing is giving them the opportunity to move the ball consistently."