For the second week in a row the Bengals (3-4) face one of their former offensive coordinators, as Jay Gruden tries to bounce back from a last-minute loss in Detroit suffered last week. The Redskins (4-3) ressemble Gruden’s Bengals a little bit, as they are a pass-happy team that also lost in a Wild Card game last season.
They also have a few players that present really tough matchups for Cincinnati, and Kirk Cousins has gotten better, if not less erratic, as the weeks have gone by this season. The Bengals have yet to beat a team with a winning record, as Washington enters this week one game over .500 and giving up a home game doesn’t help the Bengals in this matchup.
London games are usually hard for both squads and the football is very sloppy, but here is a list of Redskins players that you should watch for early on Sunday morning:
Ryan Kerrigan, outside linebacker
Kerrigan is of the best pass rushers in the league and probably the best defender on Washington’s roster. He already has 53.5 sacks in five and a half seasons, and comes into this game red hot, after recording four in his last three outings.
The 6-4 linebacker from Indiana is not as good against the run, but right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi is going to need help to protect Andy Dalton on Sunday. Don’t try to put a tight end on him because he’s not only fast, but Kerrigan can bull-rush anybody in the league and will attack the Bengals’ biggest hole early and often.
Morgan Moses, right tackle
If Ogbuehi faces a tough challenge on Sunday, left end Carlos Dunlap will also have his hands full against one of the better right tackles so far this season. Washington’s offensive line has been pretty good all year long, but Moses will be the focus because until Geno Atkins comes back to life, Dunlap is the top Bengals pass rusher.
A hometown lineman, he is from Richmond and went to Virginia; he is better at pass protection, but the Bengals made Browns right tackle Austin Pasztor look like a Pro Bowler last week in the running game, and he’s far from that.
Chris Thompson, running back
Right now the Bengals can’t stop the run. It doesn’t matter who’s carrying the football. The Redskins have struggled this season amid hot and cold streaks of their starting running back, Matt Jones. He isn’t playing on Sunday so Thompson, their third-down guy will have an even bigger role.
Cincinnati also has problems defending in space, and there’s nothing worse for them right now than a back that can run the football effectively but also catch it out of the backfield against soft zone coverage.
Thompson and Jones are a little bit like Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, so you get an idea of what the speedy back can do against Cincinnati in Wembley Stadium.
Jordan Reed, tight end
Speaking of nightmares for opposing linebackers, Reed is at the top of the list, although his health issues make him a bit of a wild card. If he’s good to go (he’s currently questionable) expect him to be featured a lot. Kirk Cousins loves to throw to him, and Reed is the kind of mismatch that can give Cincinnati big trouble.
He might not be as big as Rob Gronkowski, as he’s only 6-foot-2, but he is really fast and has amazing hands. Reed is also fearless and catches anything that goes his way, no matter how hard he is getting hit.
Josh Norman, cornerback
I didn’t want to put him on the list, but if he plays (he’s also questionable) he is going up against the best wide receiver in the league, so I had no choice.
The Redskins have another cornerback who is pretty good in Bashaud Breeland, but after what happened in their game against the Steelers, Norman has been getting the toughest assignments.
Norman says he’s eager to play against A.J. Green. I’m eager to watch that, too.