Bengals must recognize Eagles haven’t quit

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The Philadelphia Eagles haven’t completely given up on the season. They damaged Tampa Bay’s playoff chances last weekend and get an opportunity Thursday night to do the same to the Cincinnati Bengals.

It’s a critical game for the Bengals (No. 16 in the AP Pro32). At 7-6, they are in the midst of the AFC wild-card race, tied with the Steelers and a game in front of the Jets for the final spot. After blowing a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter against Dallas, at home no less, they can’t afford to flop in Philly, where the Bengals are a 3-point favorite.

Had the Eagles (No. 27, AP Pro32) not rallied to win at Tampa on the final play last Sunday, this wouldn’t seem much of a hurdle. To the credit of coach Andy Reid and the young players he’s using in this lost season, the Eagles still are trying.

“I think the big thing is, it’s a great thing for the team sticking together,” rookie quarterback Nick Foles said. “We can build off of this.”

Perhaps. But at 4-9 and with an eight-game slide just concluded, Philadelphia isn’t going anywhere this season. Cincinnati could be, and with games remaining at Pittsburgh and home for Baltimore, a loss to the lowly if re-inspired Eagles is unthinkable.

“We let a huge opportunity get away based upon what happened with a couple of other clubs,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “And that’s the shame of it.”

Falling to Philadelphia would be even more of a shame.

BENGALS, 19-13

___

No. 3 San Francisco (plus 3) at No. 1 New England

If Patriots do to Niners what they did to Texans, there might be no stopping them.

BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 24-17

No. 6 (tie) New York Giants (plus 1) at No. 5 Atlanta

Falcons look like first-place team chasing those behind them.

UPSET SPECIAL: GIANTS, 26-20

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