The Bengals are hoping to rebound from their blowout loss to the Steelers this week against Washington.
"We were not good enough in any area," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said after the 26-10 loss. "That's offense, defense, and special teams. And we really weren't good enough coaching, and that's on me 100%. I feel like I let these guys down, so it all starts with me."
Pittsburgh started hot and the Bengals couldn’t find a way to stop their division rival. Ben Roethlisberger torched a depleted Cincinnati secondary, throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns.
The Bengals’ 90-yard touchdown drive was the lone highlight on offense. Joe Burrow found fellow rookie Tee Higgins for a 54-yard gain in the first half. It was their longest play of the game.
Burrow and company never found their groove. He completed 52% of his passes. The offense was 0-13 on third down, they couldn't establish the run and the Steelers sacked Burrow four times.
Bouncing back from their performance won’t be easy. They take on the three-headed pass rushing monster in Chase Young, Ryan Kerrigan, and Montez Sweat.
Washington’s defensive line ranks fifth in the league with 28 sacks. On the other hand, the Bengals have given up the third-most sacks (32).
Keeping Burrow upright will be a key in picking up a much needed win in the nation’s capital. The rookie signal-caller will have Jonah Williams protecting his blindside. The second-year left tackle missed the past two games with a stinger.
Bobby Hart is expected to play for the first time since injuring his knee in Week 7. Zac Taylor declined whether or not Hart would start at right tackle.
The offensive line is getting healthier. The Bengals will have some tough decisions to make in the trenches. Will Quinton Spain continue to start? Will rookie Hakeem Adeniji get more reps?
Burrow should have a solid day if he is given time to throw. Washington is the top ranked pass defense in the NFL, but that stat is deceiving.
They've also given up eight forty-plus yard passes this season, which is tied for most in the league. Burrow struggled with the deep ball to start the season, but has found at least one receiver for a twenty-plus yard gain or more in four-straight games.
Washington’s defense has faced the second-lowest opponent passing attempts per game (29.3). They've allowed 27 or more points in six of their games this season.
Burrow is averaging 41.1 attempts per game. Expect this pass heavy offense to continue to rely on the arm of their 23-year-old phenom.
This bodes well for Higgins who is averaging 15.1 yards per reception and has been on the receiving end of most of Burrow’s big plays.
This game could also be an opportunity for A.J. Green to breakout. His struggles this season are well documented. The Bengals would love to have the seven-time Pro Bowler find the end zone for the first time in 2020 on Sunday.
Maintaining a balanced attack will be crucial for the Bengals.
Joe Mixon will miss a fourth-consecutive game with a foot injury. Giovani Bernard will get the start once again.
"I’ve always just been a guy (that) whenever my number is called, just go out there and have no drop off," Bernard said on Thursday. "I’ve always been with that type of mindset, just to go out there, play ball and have fun doing it. But obviously, Joe’s a great player. We miss him. He’s just recovering from his injury. Any type of great player, you want them on the field."
Bernard has 129 rushing yards, 92 receiving yards and three touchdowns in three games with Mixon out.
Semaje Perine and Trayveon Williams could also be part of the game plan.
Bernard and company will need to have some early success on the ground. That would keep Washington's defensive line honest.
Burrow wasn’t pleased with his performance against Pittsburgh, but was eager to get back to practice this week in hopes of turning things around against Washington.
He and his teammates will need to set the tone early if they're going to pick up a much needed road win.
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