Ian Hartitz looks at key takeaways from Week 3 of the NFL preseason.
Cincinnati Bengals 26, Buffalo Bills 13
- Closing Spread: Bills -1.5
- Closing Over/Under: 41
Andy Dalton and the first-team offense played brilliantly in the first half, scoring 20 points and moving the ball through the air at will.
Overall, Dalton completed 11 of 16 passes for 180 yards and two scores, finding A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, Tyler Eifert and John Ross for double-digit gains.
The latter receiver in particular flashed in a big way. Last year’s No. 9 overall pick caught two passes for a game-high 66 yards, including an electric 57-yard touchdown on the team’s first offensive play.
Ross broke the combine’s 40-yard dash record with a blistering 4.22-second sprint in 2017. He’s an elite field-stretching threat who could help pull attention away from Green and open up the middle of the field for Eifert.
The clock struck midnight on Josh Allen’s preseason Cinderella story, as this year’s No. 7 overall pick completed just 6 of 12 passes for 34 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
It wasn’t all Allen’s fault: The Bills’ offensive line allowed five sacks in the first half alone. Allen was forced out of the game with a head injury, but was later cleared to return.
It seemed Allen was poised to earn a Week 1 start with a strong performance Sunday, but the team could choose to use the fourth preseason game to further evaluate its options. Through three weeks, incumbent backup Nathan Peterman has outplayed AJ McCarron and Allen on the stat sheet.
- Allen: 24-44, 54.5% cmp, 210 yards, 4.8 yards per attempt, 2 TD, 0 INT
- McCarron: 10-16, 62.5% cmp, 128 yards, 8.0 yards per attempt, 0 TD, 0 INT
- Peterman: 33-41, 80.5% cmp, 431 yards, 10.5 yards per attempt, 3 TD, 1 INT
Arizona Cardinals 27, Dallas Cowboys 3
- Closing Spread: Cardinals -2.5
- Closing Over/Under: 38.5
The Cardinals rested proven commodities Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Sam Bradford and the rest of the first-team offense accordingly failed to score in two series of action.
As discussed in the preview, the porous pass-blocking of the offensive line and the unproven crop of receivers behind Fitzgerald present major concerns for the Cardinals’ offense moving forward.
The good news is fourth-rounder Chase Edmonds has seemingly established himself as a viable three-down backup to Johnson. Adrian Peterson, Kerwynn Williams and Chris Johnson each received 15-plus touches in a game during Johnson’s absence last season. Edmonds possesses a fantasy-friendly skill set that could be put to use often if Johnson is ever forced to miss time.
The Cowboys chose to rest Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, as well as their banged-up offensive line Sunday night.
The result was three points, eight turnovers and six punts, as the offense combined an inefficient rushing attack with turnover-prone quarterback play.
While there wasn’t much to like on the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys’ defense stood tall against the Cardinals’ first-team offense (sans Johnson and Fitzgerald).
The defensive line’s pass rushers wreaked havoc for the better part of the night, and their depth could present problems for opposing offenses.
- DeMarcus Lawrence: PFF’s top-graded pass rusher tied for second in the league with 14.5 sacks in 2017.
- Tyrone Crawford: The fifth-year starter was PFF’s No. 16 overall edge rusher last season.
- Taco Charlton: The team’s 2017 first-round pick has plenty of room for growth.
- Randy Gregory: The troubled former second-round pick has top-10 talent and flashed a ridiculous first step in limited on-field time.