Bengals vs Redskins: What to look for in Week 3 action

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LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals (r) celebrates with Clint Boling #65 of the Cincinnati Bengals after scoring a touchdown during the NFL International Series Game between Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium on October 30, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals (r) celebrates with Clint Boling #65 of the Cincinnati Bengals after scoring a touchdown during the NFL International Series Game between Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium on October 30, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) /
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Outside of the good old rematch and revenge scenario, the Bengals need to prove some things. Sunday afternoon’s dress rehearsal is a crucial game.

It’s not about the preseason record. Yes, W’s look good as the final result. But, the overall intent is to find out who stays and who gets to go on vacation early. When the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins do battle on Sunday, it should be a game that looks and feels like a regular season showdown. Anything less from either team is a cause for concern.

Things could turn out a bit tight in the AFC North. Not much can be put on winning and losing during preseason games. But, the Bengals’ rivals in the North are looking a tad more consistent in what they’re trying to do. What would that be? Winning.

Again, these games don’t count towards getting closer to the Lombardi. Yet, there’s a good chance that what you see in a meaningless game can easily translate to the ones that do count.

Before you even think it, the answer is yes. Sunday’s duel (4:30 p.m., FOX) is a rematch. It can (sort of) be looked upon as a revenge game. This will be a test of how the Bengals can adjust to what Jay Gruden & Co. know about them. 

Related Story: A New Look For The Hogs?

The O-line And Offense 

If there’s one thing that is a universal black eye on the Bengals reputation, it’s the state of the offensive line. Going into Week 3, there should be even more continuity that was seen in the skirmish with Tampa Bay. We’ll skip the KC fiasco and look at the first preseason game. Consequently, we can give the line a passing grade. Yes, they played the Tampa Bay Bucs. But, the road graders paved the way for 140 yards. Wait. Jeff Driskel scrambled for 36 of those yards. So, let’s effectively call it 104 on the ground. Still, that’s nothing to complain about. They held up honorably under pressure.

Conversely, against KC, the tally was only 72 yards rushing and they surrendered two sacks. And we ain’t talkin’ White Castles (Krystal for y’all southern folk). This is the game that has to bring it together for the line. They have to show they’re not the weak link. Trey Hopkins has done a superb job in place of the maligned Andre Smith. If he continues to be a versatile piece of the puzzle, there’s hope for this group.

Yup, it’s also the game Andy Dalton has to prove he has the passion and fire to lead the team on TD drives. Field goals are nice…but six points goes a long way towards sticking a fork in the opponent. After his Week 1 sharpness, Dalton looked less than pedestrian against the Chiefs. That cannot happen on Sunday. This is the dress rehearsal for the real thing.  

Joe Mixon and Jeremy Hill should be fine. But, the line has to create holes. Penetration by Washington’s front seven could make things really interesting…if it happens.

The X Factor

The defense has to bounce back. DC Paul Guenther looked shocked and confused last week. It seemed like he was stuck in The Twilight Zone and couldn’t get out. Facial expressions? Classic.

There should be a few more blitz packages unleashed on the Redskins. Likewise, there should be a turnaround from the lackluster performance against KC.

Next: Gotta Get Rough And Tough

As Lewis begins to see the upside of letting the younger players and rookies get snaps, the defense will benefit from the move. Chris Smith looks like a lock at the end positioned. And Jordan Willis has the versatility to play either side of the line.

"“There’s something to be said when the old coach says there’s something to be said for young guys,” Lewis said. “I like old guys, but our job as coaches is to develop young guys. Because they last longer. It’s just proven. That’s the way it is. We believe in building the team through the draft.”"

This should be the year fans see how far that building has brought the team. Sunday is the test run.

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