The Bengals are beatable, but could be trouble

I promise I’ll never again let the conversation get so slow you’re having a Lindsay Lohan vs. Amanda Bynes debate in the comments. I’ll do two posts per morning before the cupboard is so bare you’re discussing politics here. It’s just not worth it, fellas.

Back to football this morning, and on to the Bengals. It’s an opportunity for the Redskins to shine in front of the home crowd, but overall a matchup not all that different from the Rams. Cincinnati is a team that can beat Washington if it doesn’t play well. They aren’t particularly outstanding at any one thing, but they don’t haveĀ  a lot of weaknesses either.

I took a look at last week’s game against the Browns, with an eye on how the Redskins might match up. Some observations:

– The punt return touchdown by Adam Jones really wasn’t an outstanding runback so much as it was comically bad punt coverage by the Browns. Six guys missed tackles and a seventh got blocked on to his butt. It looked like a scene from a slapstick movie, the way guys were falling all over the place. The Redskins don’t necessarily need to fear Jones like they would a Devin Hester or Josh Cribbs, but you have to imagine they’re in practice this week overly focused on making sure they get punts off. In trying not to have one blocked for a third consecutive week, the Redskins might be slow to get downfield and cover Sav Rocca’s punts, leaving creases for Jones.

– Bengals QB Andy Dalton is pretty accurate on three-step drops and other quick throws, but he gets skittish when the routes take a while to develop. The Redskins, even without Brian Orakpo, could get some sacks if they can cover for an extra beat …

– Which brings us to the big question, can the Redskins contain Bengals WR A.J. Green? You guys in the comments were pretty unhappy with Jim Haslett’s zone defenses last week. Let’s say they use more man and put the clamps on Green, sometimes double-covering him. Get used to the names Brandon Tate and Armon Binns. They combined for eight catches and 137 yards last week. They’re both over 6 feet and 200 pounds. Five-foot-7 Andrew Hawkins is the shifty little guy that might bring back bad Danny Amendola memories; He juked his way to a 50-yard touchdown in Cleveland.

– Seemed like all of Dalton’s completions were outside the numbers. On a rare throw over the middle, D’Qwell Jackson intercepted it. Might have just been a game plan thing or a specific way to attack Cleveland though. Not sure what that means for the Redskins.

– The Bengals defense doesn’t miss many tackles, but they also stayed blocked once linemen got their mitts on them. Trent Richardson had a 32-yard touchdown run that was barely off tackle, and nobody touched him. And not long after I wrote this, I saw Richardson’s second touchdown, in which about five Bengals missed. But I didn’t see any other plays where Bengals players tackled sloppily, don’t be surprised if they get more hats on Alfred Morris than the Rams did.

– After Richardson ran for 109 yards against the Bengals, I wonder if this is one of the games where we’ll see a ton of the stretch play early on, in hopes of setting up a defense for big play-action passes late in the game. The Redskins set the Rams up and hit them with the big play-action pass to Leonard Hankerson, and had another one open deep to Aldrick Robinson early in the fourth.

Overall, the Bengals don’t seem that impressive, but neither did the Rams. They certainly don’t have many name guys, but they look pretty solid defensively, and the run game is adequate. It’s an opportunity for the Redskins to win, but as you know by now, some guys are going to have to play above expectations.

If the Redskins’ coverage is as soft as it was last week, Andy Dalton will have a big day like Bradford did. Dalton completes the quick passes as well as Bradford, if not better.

How do you think the Bengals and Redskins match up? What’s the key to the game, in your mind?

Friday callout

If you remember the drill from last week, there’s an opportunity in the Friday Opening Kick to feature your picks and wishes. Send one thing you’d like to see the Redskins do — besides, “play well” — and/or an around-the-NFL prediction to mcmillank@washpost.com. They can be serious or humorous. I’ll compile the best for Friday morning. We’ll also talk more Bengals, and whatever’s on your mind. I’ll delve into the comments this afternoon.

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