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Bengals vs. Buccaneers: Preseason Preview

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Aug 15, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) speaks to the media after the preseason NFL football game with the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals’ matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be one of the team’s most high-profile games of all of 2015, regular season included. However, the popularity of this game won’t be due to Cincinnati’s success in New York or the excitement surrounding the Bengals’ loaded roster; the attention will come from headlines tracking Buccaneers rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and his progress.

Winston, of course, was the first overall selection of the 2015 NFL Draft, and he figures to start against the Bengals. In the Bucs’ 16-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Winston played the entire first half in an uneven NFL debut; Lovie Smith figures to keep Winston on the field for the entire half against Cincinnati as well. And this should be exciting for Buccaneers fans and Bengals fans.

Winston’s extended playing time (in comparison to other starting quarterbacks) should excite Buccaneers fans because their franchise quarterback will be on the field for the entire first half; this should be exciting to watch for Bucs fans. And for Bengals fans, being able to watch Cincinnati’s defense take on Winston should be exciting. Last week, the Bengals decimated a Giants unit that had an offense which was much better in 2014; taking on Winston and the Buccaneers’ horrendous offensive line should give Cincinnati’s improved defense some national attention if it can make enough plays.

Cincinnati’s defensive starters dominated in their limited action against the New York Giants. Holding Eli Manning to one completion for negative five yards in his first two series, the Bengals’ defense had a field day. In fact, the Giants only had one play that went for positive yards in its first two drives, a three-yard Rashad Jennings run, giving the Giants negative two total yards on their first two drives.

The Bengals shut down both the passing and running games; Odell Beckham Jr. had two targets and zero catches, while Victor Cruz didn’t even see the ball come his way. Eli Manning’s stats after four drives (two against the starters, two against the backups): 4/8, 22 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions. And the Giants’ three running backs to play at least one snap against the starters (Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen and Andre Williams) finished with six carries that went for 16 yards (2.67 yards per carry).

And on offense, the Bengals were just as good, driving down the field for a touchdown on their first and only drive. Every play went for positive yards, and Dalton completed passes to three different players. Taking on a questionable Buccaneers secondary, Dalton should be comfortable enough to pick apart the defense with ease. But Jeremy Hill should have a challenge taking on Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, two of the league’s premiere run-stoppers; it will be interesting to see if Cincinnati’s lead back will have success in the run game.

Next: Players to Watch

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