Redskins vs. Bengals: Where Sunday's Game Will Be Won or Lost

Brian Paxton@@thebrianpaxtonContributor IIISeptember 21, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins 'Tebows' after throwing a touchdown pass against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

On Sunday the Robert Griffin III's (also known as the Washington Redskins) host the Cincinnati Bengals for their home opener. After a disappointing loss to the Rams, the Redskins hope to bounce back against a weaker defense.

Griffin should have another big game, but if Pierre Garcon doesn't play again he'll need someone else to step up and give him a target. Cornerbacks Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick are banged up for the Bengals, which should make things easier.

This should be a fun one to watch, much like anything else involving Griffin. Here's where the game will be decided.

Where the Game Will Be Won

1. Run Morris, run.

The Bengals are weak against the run and that should be exploited by Washington on Sunday. Rookie Alfred Morris should get at least 25 touches and needs to make the most of them.

If he can consistently gain four or five yards with the occasional big play thrown in, the Redskins are going to look really good here.

The Browns were able to keep up with the Bengals last week because of Trent Richardson's big game. While he is a far more talented back than Morris, the principle is the same.

The Redskins need to establish a dominant running game to open up things for Griffin.

2. Pressure Andy Dalton.

If Andy Dalton has time to sit in the pocket, he will shred the Redskins secondary. He has plenty of weapons in the passing game, including elite receiver A.J. Green. Much like the Saints, this is an explosive, pass-first offense that will put points on the board.

With Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker out for the year, this task seems infinitely harder. But great teams can overcome injuries and find ways to win. The Giants demolished the Panthers with Ramses Barden and Andre Brown filling in for Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw. The Redskins need some of that.

Look for Ryan Kerrigan to get his work in often, with DeAngelo Hall getting some looks rushing the passer. The scheme will need to adjust to compensate for the loss of Orakpo and Carriker.

3. Take the top off.

We've heard so much about RGIII's deep ball accuracy, and we ended up seeing what he can really do last week on the deep bomb to Leonard Hankerson. He would've had another 50-plus yard play to Aldrick Robinson, but he dropped the pass. That can't happen this week.

The Redskins have no shortage of speedsters at the wide receiver position. Both Hankerson and Robinson can take the top off the defense for huge plays. With a depleted defense, the Redskins will need those to keep the pressure on the Cincinnati offense.

Big plays will not only create more scoring opportunities, but will also get the home crowd in the game. The stadium should be packed for RGIII's home debut, so noise will definitely be a factor for the Bengals.

Where the Game Will Be Lost

1. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.

The Redskins are third in the league right now with a +5 turnover margin. That's a breath of fresh air for a team that employed a quarterback averaging two turnovers a game last year.

With a rookie quarterback, anything can happen. If Griffin tries to force things a bit too much and gives the ball away we could see this game get out of control fast. He's been a bit lucky with a few errant throws thus far, but that luck could easily change.

2. Special teams woes.

Two games, two blocked punts. That trend cannot continue.

Blocked punts lead to easy points for the opposing team. In many ways, they end up being worse than turnovers. Special teams coach Danny Smith needs to work out his protection schemes.

Brandon Banks has been disappointing, to say the least, in the return game. If he can't give Griffin a shorter field to work with, things will be much harder on the rookie.

3. Danny Amendola part two.

Andrew Hawkins is phenomenal in the open field. His game is a bit similar to Amendola's in that he's a shifty runner with good hands. A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu may get most of the attention, but Hawkins is the guy I'm worried about if I'm Jim Haslett.

The defensive scheme last week was completely shredded by Amendola to the tune of 160 yards and a touchdown. Hawkins has the ability to have that kind of game if the defense doesn't adjust.

The 'Skins should play the Bengals much like they played the Saints in Week 1—with a heavy dose of man coverage and blitzing.


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