Bengals vs. Buccaneers: Preseason Preview

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Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Greg Little (11) against the New York Giants in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This game between Cincinnati and Tampa Bay provides several intriguing matchups. With Cincinnati boasting a deeper and more talented roster than Tampa Bay, the Bengals’ reserve players should have a great chance to prove themselves on both sides of the ball.

Bengals Defensive Line vs. Buccaneers Offensive Line

Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins both made a couple of nice plays against the Giants, but the defensive line left a lot on the table in Cincinnati’s Week 1 matchup with New York. With the Bucs’ best offensive lineman, right tackle Demar Dotson, out with an injury, Carlos Dunlap should be chomping at the bit. Even with Dotson, Tampa Bay still had the NFL’s worst offensive line in 2014. Anything short of complete domination would be a disappointment for Cincinnati’s defensive line.

While Cincinnati’s starters should make a few plays, keep an eye on the backups. Marcus Hardison was great in his first outing, but the Bengals need more than just one player to stand out. Devon Still, in particular, will need to make more than a few plays in order to warrant a roster spot; here’s to hoping that he can make an impact in Tampa Bay.

With such a disappointing offensive line, Jameis Winston should have little time to throw; Cincinnati needs to rack up at least three sacks on the rookie quarterback to satisfy expectations.

Bengals Pass-Catchers vs. Buccaneers Secondary

Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Greg Little (11) against the New York Giants in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In the Bengals’ first preseason game, the team threw the ball a ton, likely because Marvin Lewis is looking for another wide receiver to emerge behind A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. And to Lewis’ delight, two receivers showed promise in Cincinnati’s victory over the Giants and should compete for a roster spot. In fact, they both looked so good that both could potentially earn roster spots if they play well enough.

Greg Little hauled in three passes for 65 yards, while Denarius Moore grabbed a 30-yard dagger from Josh Johnson and drew a deep pass interference call.

Against a questionable Bucs secondary, these receivers should have even more opportunities to show off their skills and make the case to earn a roster spot over Brandon Tate, who the Bengals just need to cut ties with at this point.

Along with the receivers, tight ends Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah could make an impact. Eifert had a couple of nice catches in Cincinnati’s first preseason matchup, while Kroft’s only target was batted before he had a chance to make a play on the ball. Uzomah had a nice catch but he also missed an easy catch that would’ve likely resulted in a touchdown. Eifert survived an injury scare earlier in the week after taking a big hit from George Iloka, but he should be fine and ready to play against Tampa Bay.

A.J. McCarron vs. Buccaneers Defense

How many times have we heard A.J. McCarron’s name mentioned in the news?

Too many.

The Bengals’ fifth-round selection in 2014 will finally suit up in the stripes for the first time in his career in Tampa, bar another injury. Despite dealing with a shoulder injury that has nagged since he was drafted–and prevented him from taking a single snap in any actual NFL action–McCarron has been in the news almost just as much as Andy Dalton during his tenure as a Bengal; there have been stories about how he should replace Dalton even though he hasn’t even been healthy enough to take the field!

McCarron has drawn praise and uncertainty this offseason, but he plans to finally make his NFL debut on Monday.

We’ll see how that goes.

Bengals Running backs vs. Buccaneers Defense

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Bengals fans are already excited about Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard taking the field in meaningful regular season action, but Hill could see some action on Monday against the Buccaneers’ surprisingly talented run defense. Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David are two of the NFL’s best run-stoppers, so Jeremy Hill could have his work cut out for him. Watch Hill to see how he performs in the few snaps that he will take.

Gio Bernard needs to step up his game. After a disappointing Week 1 performance in which he made no impact on offense and looked jittery as a returner, Bernard needs to prove that he can be a weapon in the return game this week.

But the real matchup to look for should be between James Wilder Jr. and Terrell Watson. While Wilder Jr. gained 53 yards on 14 carries against New York’s third-stringers, Watson gained just a yard less on only seven carries. Sure, it was against the fourth-string defenders, but keep in mind that Watson was running behind Cincy’s fourth-string linemen as well. Look for Watson to see some more meaningful action after a surprisingly impressive Week 1 performance; the competition between he and Wilder Jr. could get interesting.

With so many intriguing matchups, this preseason clash between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be fun to watch.

Be sure to tune into ESPN on Monday night (tonight) at 8PM EST to catch the action!

Next: Cincinnati Bengals: Preseason Week 1 Takeaways