Washington Redskins vs Cincinnati Bengals preview: London hosts its final game of 2016

VAVEL USA's Jamie Joslyn previews the Washington Redskins against the Cincinnati Bengals in week eight of the NFL at Wembley stadium, London.

Washington Redskins vs Cincinnati Bengals preview: London hosts its final game of 2016
Washington Redskins @ Cincinnati Bengals preview: London host's it's final game of 2016

Washington Redskins head coach, Jay Gruden, takes on an offense he knows so well, as the Cincinnati Bengals play the home team for the final 2016 game in London. 

Gruden up against former team

The big story coming into the final international series game of 2016, is Redskins head coach, Jay Gruden coming up against the offense he coordinated for three seasons from 2011-2013. Gruden was the main factor in helping Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton adapt to the NFL so quickly after he was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Jay Gruden during his time with the Bengals | Source: Al Behrman - AP Photo
Jay Gruden during his time with the Bengals | Source: Al Behrman - AP Photo

As well as Dalton's play, Gruden also helped establish one of the best quarterback-wide receiver relationships in the NFL, between Dalton and A.J. Green who was also taken by the Bengals in 2011 draft. Under Gruden's system, Green and Dalton have broke league records for completions and yards for a rookie passer and catcher combination.

Both teams playing catch up 

The Redskins might be just above .500, with a 4-3 record, but like the Bengals who are 3-4, they are third in the NFC East, while the Bengals are third in the AFC North. Washington had won four straight after losing their first two games but lost out to the Detroit Lions on the road in the dying seconds last week. 

As for the Bengals, they come into London off a big divisional win at home to the Cleveland Browns. Despite this game not being at their actual home, Paul Brown stadium. The Bengals are the home team in London and when they've been called that, they've been a better team with a 2-1 record compared to a 1-3 record away. 

The game should go a long way to deciding both team's playoff aspirations, as the Bengals still have four games to play within their division and Washington still have to take on some of the best teams in the NFC before the end of the season in nine weeks time.

Redzone struggles all around

The Redskins and the Bengals both have offenses, which have moved the ball well this season and had balanced attacks, with the passing and rushing games both being effective. The teams are fifth and sixth in yards per game, but neither is anywhere near the top 10 in the league for points per game.

The struggle for points ultimately comes down to not finishing drives off in the red zone. Both teams rank near the bottom for red zone offense, with the two teams only scoring touchdowns on around 43% of their trips inside the 20-yard line of the opponent. 

Matt Jones (center) carries the ball in a game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 | Source: Mark Tenaly - AP Photo
Matt Jones (center) carries the ball in a game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 | Source: Mark Tenaly - AP Photo

It's been the same issue for the two teams near the end zone, but for different reasons, as the Bengals have had to settle for field goals, while the Redskins have been guilty of turnovers in the red zone. A couple of Washington quarterback, Kirk Cousin's six interceptions have come inside the 20 along with plays like last week against the Lions when running back, Matt Jones fumbled in the end zone.

Ground and pound type of game?

Both quarterbacks are on course for 4000 passing yards seasons, but it's perhaps been the running games of the Bengals and the Redskins who have stolen the show in recent weeks. Jeremy Hill had a breakout game for Cincinnati last week, as he ran for 168 yards off just nine carries against Cleveland, with a touchdown.

Hill and Redskins starter Jones, both have over 400 yards each on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns between them in 2016. Washington as a team has managed to rush for more than 125 yards in each of their last two games. They will perhaps need more team effort on the ground this week, as Jones is on the injury report due to a knee injury, with Robert Kelley on standby. 

Both defenses have struggled a lot against the run this season. The Bengals are ranked 24th in rushing defense and the Redskins coming in as the 26th worst unit against the running game. So if Jones is unable to play it could well be the defining factor of the game. 

Injury report

Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis might be wishing his roster could practice in London more often, as they come into the game with nobody named on the injury report. 

Meanwhile, the Redskins have concerns over arguably their three best players. Tight end Jordan Reed is questionable with a concussion, although he did travel to London, he'll face further tests before the game on Sunday.

Also, there are worries on the offensive and defensive end as left tackle, Trent Williams is doubtful with a knee injury and all-pro cornerback, Josh Norman, has a concussion worry as well as a wrist injury. 

Stats

The Bengals lead the series history 5-4.

The Redskins have not beaten the Bengals since 1991.

Cincinnati won the last meeting between the sides in 2012, 38-31. Jay Gruden was, of course, the Bengals offensive coordinator for that shootout.