A year ago at this time, Andy Dalton had more than his fair share of detractors, but this year, Robert Griffin III's stock couldn't be further off the charts. Can Dalton rain on the parade, or will RG3 justify the hype?
Back in the offseason, the early line for this game had Washington favored by 1.5 points. Last week, the look-ahead line had the Redskins favored by four points, which isn't a surprise given how both teams looked in Week 1. This week, the Redskins re-opened as -3.5 favorites, but were subsequently bet down to -3 (odds from SBRforum).
I think the Skins were overvalued after all the RG3 hype in Week 1, but after seeing the Bengals for another week, I think the Skins are once again being undervalued at -3.
Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and Who?
I'm not going to get carried away and completely write off the Bengals, but when you look at their current roster, there are so many question marks across the board.
Yes, Armon Binns and Andrew Hawkins have stepped up and taken advantage of favorable coverage opposite A.J. Green, but how reliable are they going forward?
Jermaine Gresham could have more opportunities over the middle without All-Pro Brian Orakpo in the lineup. BenJarvus Green-Ellis could have a good day with Bernard Scott on track to return.
Yet, the issue is that this offense will likely have to carry the team for the entire game for a win, and they'll have to do it behind a suspect interior O-line.
The Skins have their own questions on defense, though. Much is being made about the injuries, but Jarvis Jenkins and Kedric Golston should be able to replace Adam Carriker up front just fine. The big blow is Brian Orakpo. The good news is Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, and Perry Riley still provide an impressive set of linebackers in the middle.
The real test will come in the secondary, where I'm not sold on Cedric Griffin, DeAngelo Hall, and DeJon Gomes. Brandon Meriweather remains questionable (and likely out) and Josh Wilson is probable after sustaining a concussion.
This group can't afford to have another outing like it did last week.
RG3 Hype Out of Control?
Here's what I'll say about RG3:
The kid is an outstanding athlete, but he's not about to put up the numbers that Cam Newton did a year ago.
Part of the problem is he's passing to a bunch of number two receivers. It would be nice to have Pierre Garcon in the lineup, but I don't see him as a number one yet, anyway.
Having said that, the real benefit that RG3 is going to bring to this offense is two-fold. First, defensive ends and outside linebackers must respect his ability to break contain, which will open up lanes for Alfred Morris. We've already seen the production in the run game through two weeks.
Edge rushers are getting caught over-pursuing, and when they do maintain their lanes, RG3 can make them miss.
The second direct advantage comes in the red zone.
I expect the Skins to be improved in this area, simply due to RG3's ability to make plays happen with his feet. We saw a glimpse of this last week against the Rams, when they thought they had the play locked down before RG3 tucked it in and ran in for a TD.
Simply put, this Cincy defense is not playing anything like it was last year.
That's not a good sign when you consider how little All-Pro talent is on their roster. Carlos Dunlap is on track to return, which should be a big boost to the line, but the back seven have been downright atrocious after two weeks.
Outside of Rey Maualuga in the middle, the linebackers are a liability.
The secondary is filled with a bunch of former first round talent, but none of them have stepped up and proven they can be consistent. Last week, they made Brandon Weeden look like a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. There's no way to spin that. Something is clearly not clicking with this unit.
If the Bengals don't take a significant step forward on defense this week, they'll be relying too heavily on Dalton to put the game on his shoulders.
That's something I'm willing to bet against.
The Skins opened the season with two games on the road and showed they can be a competitive bunch against middle-of-the-road teams. When you consider how much excitement there will be in their home opener, I really like the value at -3.
I don't think betting the Bengals on the road is going to be a profitable venture this year unless they make a dramatic turnaround. That's a lot to ask of a team that continues to lose in tough spots.
RG3 will continue to be up and down as the season unfolds, but he's dynamic enough to give sub-par defenses fits on gameday.
NFL Pick: WSH -3.