Keys to victory

1 Attack the middle » Cincinnati has struggled with its coverage down the middle, allowing 177 yards on six play-action pass receptions in this area in the first two games. The Bengals benched safety Taylor Mays after the first game and replaced him with Jeromy Miles, who has made one career start. The Bengals have been undisciplined with their coverage and haven't gotten enough of a pass rush to offset problems in the secondary. The Redskins do well attacking the middle.

2 Tackle well » That's something the Redskins did not do well enough last week, and the Bengals present problems in this area. Slot receiver Andrew Hawkins is dangerous if he gets the ball in space, as Cleveland discovered last week. Receiver A.J. Green is a major headache. At 6-foot-4 he's tough to defend on slants and most routes for that matter. Punt returner Adam Jones had a weaving punt return for a touchdown last week in which seven defenders missed him.

3 Win the run battle » The Bengals have not seen an attack like the Redskins. Their reputation is that of a disciplined bunch, though Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga qualifies. Those stretch zones could work fine (the Bengals are allowing 5.5 yards per carry), with the zone-read fakes burning them greatly. Play-action hurt the Bengals last week. Meanwhile, Washington struggled last week in part because they couldn't stop the run. With end Adam Carriker and linebacker Brian Orakpo sidelined, this is a major issue.

Key matchups

LG Kory Lichtensteiger

It's not just on him as Geno Atkins moves around in the interior, so take your pick.

vs.

DT Geno Atkins

He's quick and strong and loves shooting gaps. He already has two sacks.

RT Tyler Polumbus

He struggled at St. Louis but is not facing a player like Chris Long this week.

vs.

DE Carlos Dunlap

He hasn't played yet this season. He has 14 sacks the past two seasons combined.

CB DeAngelo Hall

Will the Redskins have him cover Green all day? He's a better size matchup.

vs.

WR A.J. Green

His longest catch this season is 19 yards. He averaged 16.3 yards per catch in 2011.

State of the teams

Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati made the playoffs last season largely by beating the teams it should and losing to teams with a winning record. The Bengals' strength was supposed to be their defense, but after two games -- a small sample size -- they rank 30th in yards allowed. Eventually this unit will play better.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins suffered a tough loss in St. Louis, but the biggest problems are injuries to Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo, two tough blows to overcome. But they're playing at home for the first time, and it's Robert Griffin III's debut. For as bad a loss as last week was, a win at home and they're off to a good start.

Examiner predicts

This is a tough game to predict because of the unknown variables. But RGIII is a showman, and it's his first home game. Enjoy the show.

Redskins 24, Bengals 23

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com