After opening the 2012 NFL season with two road games, the Washington Redskins will finally play their home opener. They will face the Cincinnati Bengals in a Week Three interconference matchup on September 23. Kickoff will be at 1pm from Fed Ex Field in suburban Washington, D.C.
The Redskins are coming off a 31-28 Week Two loss to the St. Louis Rams. It wasn’t from a lack of offense. Quarterback Robert Griffin III completed 20 of 29 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown. He also carried the ball eleven times for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Alfred Morris also rushed sixteen times for 89 yards to pace Washington’s rushing attack.
On the flip side, Griffin III threw the first interception of his career. In addition, the defense gave up 452 total yards. But the biggest detriment was Redskins’ wide receiver Joshua Morgan’s inopportune fifteen yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the game. Morgan’s penalty turned a forty seven yard attempt into a sixty two yard field goal try. The Redskins were down by three, and needed to make this kick to potentially force overtime. Washington kicker Billy Cundiff missed the kick, leading to the Week Two loss.
The Bengals are coming off a 34-27 Week Two home victory against their cross state rivals, the Cleveland Browns. Second year quarterback Andy Dalton completed 24 of 31 passes for 318 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Cincinnati’s most dangerous receiver is second year wide receiver A.J. Green, who caught seven passes for 58 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland.
Washington’s defense will have to play without outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker. Both suffered season ending injuries in the Week Two loss in St. Louis. To replace Orakpo, the Redskins will turn to linebackers Rob Jackson, Chris Wilson, and Markus White using a three man rotation. To replace Carriker, Washington will start defensive end Jarvis Jenkins.
While Washington can’t expect Jackson, Wilson, White and Jenkins to match Orakpo and Carriker in terms of production, the team hopes these players will provide functional play in their expanded roles.
Cincinnati has a solid pair of cornerbacks in veterans Leon Hall and Nate Clements. They will be counted on to contain Washington’s passing game, which may be without wide receiver Pierre Garcon for the second consecutive week.
Prediction: While Washington has been beset by injuries to three key players so early in the season, they still have the talented Griffin III at quarterback. Plus, the Redskins have the added luxury of home field advantage. If Washington’s defense can somehow play as a functional unit, they will have a chance to win against a Cincinnati team looking to stake its claim as a team to be reckoned with in the NFL.
Prediction: Redskins 31, Bengals 28.