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Bengals vs Washington Football Team: Week 2 NFL preseason preview

The Washington Football Team is looking to shake off a loss in their preseason opener at home against the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday. Check out our full preview of this matchup below, and find out who we think will win.

See where Washington and Cincinnati rank in our latest NFL power rankings

Bengals vs Washington Football Team: What you need to know

Jamin Davis vs Bengals offensive line

Bengals vs Washington Football Team
Jul 30, 2021; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Football Team linebacker Jamin Davis (52) looks on during training camp at Bon Secours Washington Football Team Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Washington used a first-round pick on Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis, and the rookie should get a fair amount of reps against the Bengals. He only started one year in college, so the more live experience he can accrue before the real games start, the better off he should be.

Cincinnati’s first-team offensive line should see more work than most of the other units around the league. Protecting quarterback Joe Burrow was an area the Bengals failed miserably in last year, so they need to jell quickly.

  • Instant Starter: Davis has already been named the Football Team’s starting middle linebacker. While there ought to be efforts to preserve him for the regular season, Davis will need to get comfortable calling the shots in the heart of Washington’s elite defense.
  • Smith Soaring: The additions of Riley Reiff and second-round pick Jackson Carman were expected to bolster the Bengals’ trenches. During training camp, though, the clear standout has been D’Ante Smith, a fourth-round rookie out of East Carolina who’s pushing hard for a starting guard spot.

Advantage: Washington Football Team

Tim Tebow is now playing tight end for the Jaguars.

Is Washington’s defense the best in the NFL? Find out in our NFL defense rankings

Zac Taylor vs Ron Rivera

Coming off two awful losing seasons, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor needs to prove his Cincinnati is prepared and stacks up well against Washington. It’s going to be an uphill battle, as even the Football Team’s backup defensive front will pose a challenge.

Taylor is an offensive-minded coach and comes from the Sean McVay tree. Although he doesn’t have many resources to work with in Cincy, it’s still a pivotal third year at the helm. Squaring off with such a seasoned veteran as Rivera is bound to swing this head-to-head matchup strongly in Washington’s favor.

  • Catching Zs: There really isn’t much reason to be excited for the Taylor era to date. Despite Burrow’s endorsements of him, Taylor is learning on the job as a young coach, and is far from a culture changer thus far.
  • Riverboat Ron: Rivera helped Washington overcome a toxic organizational culture and terrible QB situation a season ago to win the NFC East. With an infusion of roster talent to enjoy, Rivera just needs to stay the course, and make sure his key players make it out of the preseason healthy.

Advantage: Washington Football Team

Our NFL playoff predictions have the Washington Football Team on course to repeat as NFC East champions

Brandon Allen vs Taylor Heinicke

Bengals vs Washington Football Team
Jul 28, 2021; Cincinnati, OH, United States; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen (8) throws a pass during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

With Burrow still working back and trying to trust his surgically-repaired knee for Cincinnati, Brandon Allen will be at the controls of the offense for the most part. Allen was inconsistent in five games last season, but flashed some talent despite playing behind a bad o-line.

Meanwhile, Taylor Heinicke came out sharp in Week 1 of the preseason versus the New England Patriots, picking up where he left off in his fine performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wild Card Weekend. The unheralded signal-caller was thrust into action and threw for 306 yards in that latter start.

Heinicke seems to have locked up the backup QB job behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he can really cement that with a fine showing against the Bengals.

  • Alienating Allen: The last top-flight defense Allen faced was the Baltimore Ravens. He completed just six of 21 passes and threw two interceptions in a 38-3 Week 17 loss. Washington has the depth and star power to cause Allen to implode in similar fashion.
  • What Brown Can Do for Heinicke: Rookie wideout Dyami Brown is an exciting new playmaker who averaged over 20 yards per catch in his final two seasons at North Carolina. Brown and Heinicke just missed on a deep downfield connection against New England, so look for them to combine on at least one huge play in this one.

Advantage: Washington Football Team

The bottom line: For two organizations whose operations have been heavily criticized over the past many years, Washington seems to be on a far better course right now. The Football Team just outclasses the Bengals personnel-wise in every conceivable way with Burrow sidelined, so look for the hosts to win with relative ease.

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