We have reached the halfway point of the season, and the Washington Redskins get to celebrate with a trip across the pond.
The Redskins arrived in London, England early Friday morning ahead of Sunday's match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals at the famed Wembley Stadium.
Washington is 4-3, looking to bounce back after blowing a lead in Detroit and take that feeling of victory into the bye week.
Here are a few people and positions to watch in this week 8 showdown:
Travel and Time factors
The Washington Redskins have had two full days to adjust to the time change in London (To be fair, the Cincinnati Bengals have to deal with the same jet lag) Several of the Redskins players adjusted their sleep schedules throughout the week in hopes of getting a normal routine come Sunday. Not only do the Redskins have to deal with the time difference, but also the National Stage. They are the ONLY game on television Sunday morning, and all eyes will be on them as the NFL looks to expand its international reach. The Burgundy and Gold, however, tend to wilt under the spotlight.
Stopping A.J. Green
The Bengals all-pro wide receiver presents a tough task for the Redskins banged up secondary. This season, Green has caught 50 passes for 775 yards and three touchdowns. Look for a Green-Norman match-up on the field (if Norman is officially cleared to play. He suffered a concussion last Sunday against the Lions) One thing that perhaps plays in Washington's favor is the fact that Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden was Green's offensive coordinator for his first three seasons in Cincy. So, he knows Green's nuances and how to take advantage of them.
Running on the Right Track
The Burgundy and Gold struggled in the run game against the Detroit Lions, to the point where third down back Chris Thompson had a career game with 12 carries for 73 yards. They were hurt by two costly Matt Jones fumbles. This week, Jones will sit on the sideline with a knee injury and undrafted rookie Robert Kelley will become the lead back. The Redskins also promoted Mack Brown from the practice squad. So, Washington will have 3 healthy running backs and chance to gain some ground. This Bengals defensive line might be one of the best in the league, but they defense has given up nearly 120 yards on the game in every game this season
Attack the Secondary
The Cincinnati Bengals have a solid defense, but their secondary is their weakest point. They are a bit banged up, and don't have much depth in that area of the roster. If for some reason the run game struggles, Kirk Cousins has an opportunity to open things up and attack the weak link with his dangerous weapons in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
The Gruden Factor
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden made it clear he was looking forward to this game, and for several reasons. One, of course, was that his team wanted to get the bad taste of last week's loss out of their mouths, but also because Gruden gets a chance to face his old team, and go up against the offense he basically helped build as the Bengal's Offensive Coordinator. As previously stated, he coached Green during his first 3 season, but Gruden also helped mentor Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton, developing him into a playoff contending QB season after season.