NFL Week 3: Cincinnati Bengals' Keys to Victory over Washington Redskins

Matt GrayContributor ISeptember 21, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 16:  Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals hands off against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals travel to Washington on Sunday to take on man-of-the-moment Robert Griffin III and his Redskins team.

Despite moving to 1-1 in Week 2 with a 34-27 win over the Browns, the Bengals left the field with more questions than answers. 

Aside from Dre Kirkpatrick, the Bengals look to be back to full strength, with Carlos Dunlap and Bernard Scott likely to return. They have also added free-agent defensive end Wallace Gilberry to replace injured Jamaal Anderson.

On paper, this is a fairly even affair. Here are this week's keys to a Cincinnati Bengals victory.


Stop the Run

Trent Richardson exposed the Bengals run defense last week, and Redskins standout Alfred Morris will be hoping for similar success on Sunday. Morris had only 16 carries in St. Louis, but he should get a chance to take advantage of the Bengals defense early in this one.

If the Bengals can force RGIII to make plays with his feet, they have their best shot at shutting him down. Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson and Robert Geathers should be able to get to Robert Griffin III if he attempts to rush as much as he did last week.

Given RGIII's upset over the "dirty play" of the Rams defense, he could be apprehensive about taking so many hits in Week 3.

However, even if the Bengals front seven can snuff out Morris and the run game, it will mean little if the secondary let's RGIIi repeat Brandon Weeden's dominance through the air.


Get the ball to Hawkins, Binns

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall told The Washington Post this week (via that the Bengals' downfield passing game would give them a reprieve from the struggles of their first two weeks:

It was a lot of dink and dunk passing routes. So, going against this offense, this Jay Gruden offense, he’s going to give us some chances to make some plays downfield, because we know he’s going to go downfield to try to set up plays for his guys.

While A.J. Green will undoubtedly be looked to for a game-changing play downfield, the Bengals will benefit from from taking Danny Amendola's approach.

By attacking the middle with Andrew Hawkins and Armon Binns, the Bengals can recreate the Redskins' struggles from a week ago. Binns should be the primary target across the middle thanks to his great size and a willingness to make the tough catch.

Andy Dalton should have plenty of time to throw the ball with Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo out for the year; he just needs to keep the throws short and let Binns and Hawkins make plays with their legs.


Time of Possession

Marvin Lewis is forever preaching the value in time of possession, and this week it's every bit as important. Given the Redskins' offensive prowess, the Bengals will want to keep their struggling defense off of the field.

The BenJarvus Green-Ellis-led running back unit is averaging 26.5 carries a game at this point, and the Bengals will be hoping for him to carry the load once more. Green-Ellis has proved effective in moving the chains, and with Bernard Scott set to return, they make for an intriguing one-two punch.

Again, this key can be achieved by keeping throws short and letting the likes of Jermaine Gresham, Binns and Hawkins make the difference on the ground.


The Secondary

The secondary will be under the most pressure on Sunday.

Jason Allen will see his first regular-season action and will hopefully help to shore up the cornerback unit. Leon Hall and Jeromy Miles' health are in question, but both are likely to start.

Miles is officially the starter at strong safety after Taylor Mays' initial mishaps at the position. However, Miles is by no means a sure thing. He is very much in the learning process at this point, and RGIII will pose a difficult test.

Reggie Nelson (though not without his flaws) has been a tackling monster for the Bengals secondary. His instincts and lightning speed will be in high demand if RGIII heads for open field on Sunday, and he needs a big game.

If the Bengals can improve in the secondary and perhaps produce a turnover, they have a real shot at keeping things close.

At this point, the secondary is in the business of damage control. Their performance on Sunday will make or break the Bengals' hopes of going 2-1 in Washington.