Greg Cote’s Thursday night NFL pick

Line: CIN by 31/2

Cote’s pick: CIN 27-23

TV: 8:20 p.m. Thursday, NFL Network

NFL Week 15 sets sail with a matchup more intriguing than it appears on first glance. Bengals are in a real alley-fight to make the playoffs, presently positioned seventh in a six-team draw. Eagles are one of only eight teams mathemeatically, scientifically, logically and philosophically eliminated from contention – but that only makes this home ’dog the perfect spoiler. Philly ended a two-month losing streak at Tampa last week and rookie QB Nick Foles – off a 381-yard game – faces a Cincy secondary that has allowed opposing WRs 23 catches for 320 yards the past two games. If the good Bryce Brown (not last week’s) steps up for absent LeSean McCoy, Birds will have a big shot. Taking Bengals on pure, urgent need, but a close, close call.