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Thursday evening NFL preseason action and the AFC North will take on the NFC East as the Cincinnati Bengals grapple with the Washington Redskins at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. The Bengals check in off a 38-17 road loss to the Chiefs while the Redskins are off a 30-10 loss to the Browns on the road. These teams met in the preseason back in 2017 and the Redskins won that game at home by a score of 23-17.
The Bengals Have Issues In Their Last Line Of Defense
After 17 years on no playoff wins, the Cincinnati Bengals have moved on from Marvin Lewis. In steps, Zac Taylor and he is now tasked with leading the Bengals to their first playoff appearance since 2015 and their first playoff win since the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Their last playoff win actually came back in 1990, but you get the point. The Bengals are off a 6-10 season, in which they finished last in the AFC North and if their first preseason game is any indication, they have a lot of work to do. The Bengals lost their opener against the Chiefs on the road by a score of 38-17 and it was the pass defense that did them in.
That is the same issue that plagued the Bengals last year as they were dead last in the league against the pass, giving up 275 ypg. The Bengals brought in DB DW Webb through free agency and also selected DB Jordan Brown in the 7th round, but made no other moves to upgrade the secondary. Cincy allowed the Chiefs to throw for 285 yards and that was with Patrick Mahomes playing just one series. Mahomes was 4-for-4 for 66 yards in that series. The Bengals will be in for another long year unless they find a way to stop opponents from lighting up their secondary like the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. There are a lot of lights on that tree.
Zac Taylor Postgame News Conference: Preseason Wk 1 at KC https://t.co/QOEtUdNiLq
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 11, 2019
The offense was 26th in the league in total yards last year and 17th in scoring, putting up 23.0 ppg. The Bengals used six of their picks on the offensive side of the ball, with their first selection being OL Jonah Williams, plus they also brought in OL John Miller through fee agency. The Bengals are hoping to upgrade their line to not only protect Andy Dalton, who has been sacked 101 times in the last three years but to also help a ground game that was 21st in the league last year. So far it didn’t help their ground game as they ran for just 21 yards in the loss to the Chiefs. Jordan Ellis led the way with 11 yards. Joe Mixon led the team in rushing last year with 1168 yards, but he did not play in the opener. It is unclear whether Mixon will be in there for this one.
The QB spot will be manned by Andy Dalton during the regular season, but he is injury prone, so the Bengals used their 3rd offensive pick on QB Ryan Finley, who played his last three collegiate years at NC State. He threw for 10,501 yards with 60 TDs and 25 INTs for the Wolfpack. He will be battling Jeff Driskel for the backup spot and he had a solid performance in the opener, throwing for 109 yards on 13 of 18 passing with a TD and an INT. Driskel had a passer rating of just 82.2 last year in mop-up and backup duty when Dalton went down. He was just 8-for-19 for 79n yards against KC, while Dalton was 7-for-9 for 90 yards. The Bengals are hoping that Finely can continue to play well and possibly be their QB of the future.
“Joe Mixon & Giovani Bernard should be available, no Carl Lawson or Rodney Anderson, will talk & make decision on other defensive guys and Tyler Eifert, John Ross is still day to day.” Zac Taylor on personnel availability vs Washington.
Is Dwayne Haskins The Guy?
The Washington Redskins brought in Alex Smith last year after Kirk Cousins left for Minnesota and after 10 games, Smith’s season was over as he suffered a very gruesome leg injury. He will not be playing this year and Colt McCoy is not the answer, so the Skins went out and took Dwayne Haskins with the 11th overall pick in the draft. In 2017, the Redskins finished 13th in the league in passing, but last year, they fell all the way down to 28th. Even when smith played, he wasn’t that great. Can Haskins jumpstart the offense and be the guy? He will be battling Case Keenum, who was brought in through free agency, for the starting spot, which should make for a very interesting camp in the Nation’s Capital.
The Redskins lost the opener to the Cleveland Browns by a score of 30-10 and they threw for just 189 yards, which is a yard more than they averaged per game last year. Haskins threw for 117 yards on eight of 14 passing, but he had no TDs and threw two picks. It was not a great debut for him. Case Keenum has NFL experience and could have the early upper hand in the battle. he threw for 60 yards and a TD on 4-for-9 passing against Cleveland. Josh Woodrum was also in the mix, but he is now on IR with an injured Pectoral muscle. Expect to see a lot of Haskins and Keenum in this one as they continue their battle for the number one job.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) August 11, 2019
The running game for Washington was 17th in the league last year, but it struggled against a tough Cleveland defense. The Skins had just 82 yards in the game and leading the way was Craig Reynolds, who had 21. Adrian Peterson did not play in the opener and 4th round pick Bryce Love is out indefinitely with a knee injury, so Washington is a bit thin at RB right now. The WR corps took a hit with the loss of Jamison Crowder in the offseason, but they hope that 3rd round pick Terry McLaurin will fill the void. He played in the opener but wasn’t even targeted once.
The defense also had their issues in the loss, especially their pass defense, which allowed the Browns to pile up 327 yards through the air against them. The Skins lost Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the offseason, but they brought in Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to fill the void. After what happened against the Browns, they will need more help along the way. The Skins were 14th in pass defense last year, but we could see them slide down further this year. Washington has issues on both sides of the ball right now, but they will be facing a Cincinnati team that does as well.
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The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I am going to side with the Redskins in this one. Neither team looked good in their openers, but Washington is a bit more stable with a coaching staff already in place, which Cincy players have to learn a whole new system. The Bengals look bad in their opener, especially against the pass and that should give fuel to both Haskins and Keenum as they battle for the top QB spot. The Bengals know who their QB is, but won’t get much time in this one and his backups are very inexperienced. The Redskins are a bad team at the moment, but they will have a bit more motivation in front of their home crowd in this one. Take Washington to win by at least a TD.
Prediction: Washington -3.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I will look for the Under to cash in this one. The Skins should have a better showing on offense than in game one, but still, it is not an offense that will put up a tone of points. Haskins had 117 yards passing in the opener but also threw two picks and those are drive stoppers. The Bengals do not really have a passing game, especially with Dalton not getting much time and you can bet that the Skins will look to shore up their the secondary after a bad showing against the Browns. The Under is 4-1-1 in Cincinnati’s last six Thursday games and 12-5 in Washington’s last 17 games on grass. Take the Under in this one.
Prediction: Under 41.5