EaglesBengals: The Dhani Bowl

EaglesBengals: The Dhani Bowl

We're sure you're already sick of all the stories about that guy who used to play for the Birds. The man is a superstar though, and he played a major role in Super Bowl XXXIX. We're talking of course about Dhani Jones, who signed with the Bengals in 2007 and has actually become a very capable middle linebacker on a stout defense.

Unlike the Jaguars last week, Cincinnati should provide somewhat of a test for Kevin Kolb and the offense. The Bengals' defense ranked as a top five unit overall last season, featuring a pair of excellent, young corners in Justin Joseph and Leon Hall who wouldn't mind putting the hype about Philly's own youngsters to rest. Something's gotta give.

The skill players aren't the only ones who will be tested. The Bengals front seven will give the Eagles' line all they can handle. DT Domata Peko is the catalyst up front. He and Tank Johnson will go after an interior that has plenty of question marks right now, including C Mike McGlynn who is making his second start of the preseason.

Jason Peters will be matched up one-on-one with DE Anwtan Odom, who was off to a flying start in '09 with 8 sacks before his season was cut short with an ACL injury. He's back on the field, but he seemed to be lacking burst in Hall of Fame game against Dallas.

The Bengals have also been using second year player Michael Johnson to wreak havoc from the linebacker position. Johnson, a 6'7" converted defensive end from Georgia Tech, doesn't seem like a good fit at first impression, but he plays very fast and had a pair of sacks in the Cowboys game. This will help us get a feel for where the offense is with their blitz pickups, especially in the backfield.

On defense, we'll be keeping an eye on the right cornerbacks. Whether it's Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens, Ellis Hobbs and company are in for some stiff competition. Even though both receivers are past their primes, and Carson Palmer may be as well, they're still quality veterans who can easily beat inferior competition.

Up front, Stewart Bradley and the Eagles' run D will have their hands full with fantasy football zombie Cedric Benson. Benson, not Palmer, has really become the focal point of the Bengals' offense, and he forms a nice little thunder-lightning combo with speedy Bernard Scott. Should be interesting to see how Bradley is moving around out there and if the linebackers can keep either ball carrier from reaching the secondary.

Also of note, we didn't get a chance to talk about it this week, but Michael Vick looked absolutely explosive against Jacksonville. He was playing within the offense, going through his progressions and checking down, but he also showcased that Houdini elusiveness. His 15-yard dash to the end zone may have looked easy, but the fact that he beat everybody to the pylon was downright impressive. He's back, and perhaps better than ever.

We'll also almost definitely have more opportunities to evaluate Nate Allen and the rest of the first string defense, who played all of six snaps last week. The starters are expected to play the entire first half, so even though it doesn't count, there should be some solid football tonight.

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).