The Cincinnati Bengals are entering week 3 as they prepare to take on the Bills. With every game of the season, there will be things to watch and focus on. Here are five things to watch for in week 3.
1. How Will the Bengals Offensive Line Look?
A constant theme for the Bengals seems to be the shuffling of the offensive line due to injuries. They were pretty thin because of player retirements before the season, but the injuries have made things worse. The Bengals will be without Jonah Williams, Michael Jordan and could be without Cordy Glenn again.
The Bengals will likely start Andre Smith (who was injured during week 2), Bobby Hart, Billy Price, Trey Hopkins and John Jerry on the offensive line for week 3. For the Bengals to have a chance against the Bills, they’ll have to play better than they did in week 2.
2. Is the Running Game Ever Going to Come?
It has only been two weeks, but the Bengals have yet to get anything going on the ground. They rank 32nd in rushing yards at 29.5 yards per game. Giovanni Bernard leads the team with 27 rushing yards. This is all vastly different from last season, when Joe Mixon led the AFC in rushing yards.
Obviously, the first and second points go hand in hand. The offensive line needs to play a lot better, but Mixon can play better too. He was successful last season without the best offensive line. If he gets more carries and stays healthy, he’ll have to get on track at some point this season.
3. Zac Taylor’s Playcalling
Zac Taylor still seemed to call good plays, the Bengals just couldn’t execute against the 49ers. He has had to adjust his offensive playcalling to make up for the lack of running game and the lack of good offensive line play. He has called a lot of screens and quick passes, along with a few deep shots to John Ross, but is that optimal?
How will Taylor adjust the playcalling this week? With the offensive line banged up and the Bills having the 10th best rush defense so far this year, it will be hard again for the Bengals to run the ball. Will he continue to call screen passes, even when they aren’t working? How he handles this game should show his ability to adjust his gameplan given his personnel.
4. Will the Defense Actually Tackle?
Last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers was one of the worst tackling displays of the season. It was all too familiar for Cincinnati fans, who had to watch it on a consistent basis last year. If they tackle better in week 2, the deficit likely wouldn’t have been as high.
The Bengals will have to come ready to tackle on Sunday. They’ll be up against Devin Singletary, a slippery rookie out of Florida Atlantic, Frank Gore, a bruising veteran runner, and Josh Allen, one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the game. If they don’t tackle, they’ll be on the field a long time.
5. Can the Defense Contain Josh Allen?
As mentioned Josh Allen is a threat in a variety of ways. He has been successful throwing the ball and running the ball this season. This will make him very hard for the Bengals to stop, especially on third downs when they have to get off the field.
Allen has thrown for 507 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions this season. He has also rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown. The best way to slow him down is to force turnovers. If the defensive line can pressure him into some bad throws, Allen can be contained.