Heading into this week’s game Washington is at a 4-3, pretty solid after a rough start to their season. Losing the Lions game is not a critical loss in terms of postseason hopes, but at the same time that loss has made this week’s game against the Bengals a pivotal one.
Cincinnati is coming into this week at 3-4 after numerous weeks of inconsistency, but they may have righted their ship after the previous week where they beat the Browns and totaled over 550 yards of total offense. Cincinnati just like Washington, is looking at this game as a must win heading into their bye week as well.
The Bengals have the 5th best offense in total yards, 4th best in passing, and 10th best in rushing. They are solid all across the board and their premier offensive players have been playing at a high level all year. Including the stat pad game vs the Browns, Jeremy Hill is averaging 5 yards per carry, and their change up back Giovani Bernard has been effective in both the run and pass. A.J. Green is having an outstanding season with 50 catches for 775 yards, and Andy Dalton continues to grow as a quarterback, posting a 100.7 quarterback rating on the season with 2000 yards, 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Their offense has been very impressive as of late, their main flaw has been scoring (ranked 23rd), red zone efficiency and pass protection. Dalton has been sacked 22 times already in just 7 games which is averages out to roughly three times a game.
The Redskins defense will no question have their hands full when trying to defend the Bengals offense. As stated in a recent post, if this team wants to prove they are a legitimate threat in the NFC, they must beat the teams that knows how to win.
Andy Dalton is playing virtually mistake free football and has led the Bengals to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons. He has a 53-30-1 record as a starting quarterback. As great as Andy has been playing, this team is all about running the football. The Bengals are in the bottom half of the league in pass attempts, and top half of the league in rushing attempts. If Washington’s defense plans on having a successful outing in London on Sunday, they must remain disciplined and tackle well, as the backs in Cincinnati are tough to bring down. We all know how dangerous A.J. Green is, so defending him always brings a challenge and changing up defensive looks and providing help coverage underneath or over the top is a key to containing Green.
Even after giving up the game winning touchdown against Detroit, over the past three weeks the Redskins defense has steadily improved. From the 31st ranked defense earlier in the season, it has now moved up to 20th, this week will be another huge test against another top 16 quarterback in the NFL, possibly top 12.
The Bengals defense has been a middle of the pack unit all season long, but their issue is defending the run. The Bengals are giving up almost 5 yards per carry on the ground while also giving up 118.4 yards per game on the ground. The Redskins have now climbed into the top half of the league in rushing, currently 6th in the NFL in yards per attempt which is outstanding when looking at the issues they’ve had in 2015.
Jay Gruden has to preach to the offensive coordinator that balance is key, staying committed to running the football throughout the game. With Matt Jones having his fumbling issues, it’s hard to see him get a lot of carries this week especially with his knee injury suffered in last week’s game. Chris Thompson and Robert Kelley in my opinion will get over 90 percent of the touches if not all depending on Matt Jones status for the game. At this point we know the Redskins can throw it, with a number of weapons available for the quarterback, it will be difficult for the Bengals to defend them all. It is key for the Redskins offensive line to protect the quarterback, last week they gave up an abnormal amount of pressures.
The #Redskins have ruled out RB Matt Jones (knee), which explains why they elevated RB Mack Brown from the practice squad.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 28, 2016
The biggest key when looking at this game and looking specifically at the Redskins offense, is holding onto the football. Washington has turned the ball over in every game of this season, extra possessions can kill any team’s chances to win. Look no further than last week when Washington cost themselves at least 9 points with turnovers in Detroit territory. It is important that Washington capitalizes on their possessions in Bengals territory and play mistake free football on Sunday.
This is more of a must win for Washington, because the standings say so. Dallas has a 5-1 record with Philly right behind them at 4-2, they face off on Sunday night. A loss against the Bengals you are possibly facing a 4th place spot in the standings when heading into week 10 against the Vikings, which would also be a must win if a loss occurs on Sunday. The 4-game stretch after the bye week becomes critical and can essentially determine the season for Washington, so Washington needs to start stacking wins.