The Cincinnati Bengals are headed to FedEx Field in Maryland to take on the Washington Redskins in the third preseason game of the NFL season for both teams (4.30pm ET Sunday on FOX).
Considered to be the dress rehearsal of the year, the third preseason game is the only one where the starters on both sides of the ball as well as special teams, will play two to three quarters. That means that this is the fans’ first real taste of game action as it will be in a few short weeks when the 2017-18 season officially kicks off.
The Bengals, who are coming off a year in which they posted a 6-9-1 record, which was good enough for just third best in the AFC North, are hoping to rebound to where they were just a few short years ago when Cincinnati toppled both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens to stand atop their division. The Bengals are still led by Andy Dalton, who will be entering his seventh year in the league, all with Cincinnati.
Now 29, Dalton is looking for a bounce back season of his own and health permitting, finally has the offense behind him to do so. The Bengals look to have a formidable group for Dalton and so far in the preseason he has made the most of his weapons, despite receiving just limited snaps. AJ Green, one of the top receivers in the league, is returning healthy after missing time last year and his impact back on the field could make a lot of the difference for the Bengals this season.
On Sunday, the Bengals will be facing off against another team that is looking to rise above their performance last year, that of the Redskins. DC’s home team finished just 8-7-1 (the tie came in a game against the Bengals in October 2016), and just like the Bengals, were third in their division (NFC East).
Washington battled a season of ups and downs and never quite managed to put it together behind now sixth-year quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Cousins, who took over the starting job in DC just two seasons ago, has been really strong at the position since. Cousins has tossed over 4,000 yards and over 25 touchdowns in each of his seasons as the starter. Last year, Cousins came just a few yards away from 5,000 in a single season for the first time in his career. He did however also toss a career high 12 interceptions. With Cousins looking like the long term solution at quarterback in Washington, all eyes will be on his performance this year. If the limited preseason is any indication, Cousins looks sharp and ready to go for the 2017-18 season.
Keeping an Eye on Washington’s Weapons
One of the things that fans will most be looking forward to seeing on Sunday afternoon is the development of chemistry between Cousins and his receiving corps. Last year that group was led by DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, both of whom left in the offseason for other teams. That leaves Cousins will a group led by Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder, as well as standout tight end, Jordan Reed.
The biggest question mark for the Redskins is at the running back position as three guys have been competing throughout camp to win the job. Rob Kelley has looked the best and is expected to handle a significant amount of the touches come the regular season as the de-facto starter. But fourth round pick Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson, the pass-catching back, should also faction into the offense a good deal. Perine had a rocky start to camp but has gotten accustomed to the offense and has looked much better as of late. Both he and Kelley should get significant looks on Sunday afternoon.
Can Cincinatti Keep Dalton off the Ground?
Andy Dalton is a good quarterback but he’s very limited outside of the pocket and opposing defenses have always been able to take over. Dalton, while almost cutting his turnover ratio in half the past few seasons, still finds himself one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league. Unfortunately for the Bengals, with the way the offensive line looks, expecting that outlook to change doesn’t seem very likely.
Cedric Ogbuehi is in his first season as left tackle, following a year in which he really struggled from the right side and was even benched as a result, late in the season. Taking Ogbuehi’s place at right tackle is a first year starter, Russell Bodine. He hasn’t taken many reps and some pundits say he might be one of the worst in the league at his position. That’s not exactly the kind of news you want to hear if you are a Bengals fan because that line doesn’t inspire confidence in the ability to protect Dalton. If Dalton can’t be protected, given the Bengals running game isn’t exactly as strong as they’d like it to be, this could cause some serious dents in Cincinatti’s hopes to win their division.
Our Preview’s Cincinnati Bengals vs Washington Redskins Picks & Betting Predictions
Even though this really is a dress rehearsal of a game, both Cincinnati and Washington have several positional battles going on, which should be on full display Sunday afternoon. The teams are rounding into form and right now, the Redskins seem to have the edge. The top recommended offshore online US bookies currently have them listed as home favorites at -3pts on the spread and despite the team being 0-2 this preseason, this is the game that counts.
- With their offense and defense on full display, Washington is the slightly better team. Look for the Redskins to win and cover the 3pt deficit on the spread in the process @ -115 with any of Bovada, Bookmaker, MyBookie or Intertops.
- As for the total score, it is set at around 45 points (best 44.5pts if you are going high), which is the largest of the weekend games. This isn’t surprising given that both teams excel more offensively than defensively. Take the total of the game to exceed the 44.5 points @ -110 with MyBookie or Bookmaker.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.