Each week we try to get inside the heads of the opposite side. This week I talked with Jason Marcum, who is the lead editor at Stripe Hype. (Stripe Hype is Fanside.com’s blog that covers the Cincinnati Bengals.) After exchanging pleasantries, I wanted to know what this week’s foe was really thinking about the upcoming game.
Is there more cause for concern regarding the Bengals defense after the Browns game? If so, where do you think they need to improve?
JM: Yes. The secondary has been very weak thus far, and their best corner, Leon Hall, missed practice Thursday. Now there’s uncertainty as to whether he’ll play Sunday. While their secondary is unlikely to improve this week, their pass-rush will be getting a significant upgrade in the form of DE Carlos Dunlap. When healthy, he is a Pro Bowl caliber DE, and along with Pro Bowl DT Geno Atkins, they may be able to get a consistent pass-rush on RGIII to keep him from picking apart a weak Bengals secondary all day long.
Can the Cincinnati defense effectively contain RG3 this week?
JM: It will all depend on the pass-rush. If they can’t get to RGIII, he’ll have a career day throwing the ball. This is one of, if not the worst secondaries in the NFL right now.
Where do you feel the Redskins defense will have the most trouble this Sunday?
JM: Their pass defense has been their biggest weakness thus far, and I think A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins will have big days against the Redskins secondary. If the Skins look to double-team Green, look for TE Jermaine Gresham to have breakout game as well.
How do you compare this year’s Bengals offense to last year’s team that made the playoffs?
JM: They are much more balanced and consistent. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn’t the kind of back that will break off huge runs, but he rarely gets tackled for a loss or no gain. He keeps the offense flowing much more smoothly than last year. The Bengals receivers have thus far been better than last years’ corp, who while talented, often had trouble getting separation and dropping too many passes. Andy Dalton has also improved his accuracy, completing 68% of his passes thus far compared to 58% last season. The offensive line is much more physical and are significantly better at getting leverage on their defenders and sustaining their blocks. The best way to sum it up is they’re doing the little things better.
What is your prediction for the game?
JM: The Redskins lead the NFL in scoring offense at 34.0 ppg (1st), while the Bengals scoring defense is amongst the league’s worst at 35.5 ppg allowed (29th). The team also may not have their top corner, Leon Hall, and RGIII is already licking his chops as he sets his sights on a wounded Bengals defense. I just can’t see how the Bengals can manage to outscore the Redskins in their home-opener with an electrifying crowd cheering them on. Redskins win, 31-23.