What To Watch In Tonight's Falcons-Bengals Pre-Season Game

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24: Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons stiff arms Chinedum Ndukwe #41 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Georgia Dome on October 24 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Bengals are a nice challenge for the Falcons in the pre-season, coming equipped as they do with a decent offense, quality secondary and a few nice players up front.

With that in mind, the Falcons should have a few chances to test themselves. The reserves should have a chance to put in slightly less cringe-inducing performances in this one than they put up against the Ravens, while the first team gets a chance to prove last week's jaw-dropping first half was no accident.

I'd be remiss if I didn't break down a few of the more intriguing matchups and players to keep an eye on tonight. Join me after the jump for a rundown.

Passing Game vs. Bengals Defense

The first team was incredible last week against a tough Ravens defense, but the Bengals pass defense is no slouch either. It'll be worth seeing if Matt Ryan & Company can offer up a repeat performance.

For the backups, it's more of a question of whether or not they can distinguish themselves. Dominique Davis was the only competent-looking backup quarterback, and no one receiver truly stood out. Let's see (and hope) for a change this week.

Falcons Pass Rush vs. Andy Dalton

It'll be an early and short chance to see how the Falcons hold up against a particular kind of passer.

Joe Flacco is the better quarterback, but despite Dalton's inadequacies in arm strength, he's a more mobile passer with a quicker release. In theory at least, and with a decent line in front of him, Dalton has a better chance of avoiding the team's pass rush. It'll be interesting to see how Mike Nolan game plans for that.

The Returner Battles

There's plenty of options at returner, but only a handful of frontrunners. Watch Dominique Franks, Antone Smith and Harry Douglas to see how many chances they get and how they fare with those chances. I'm especially interested to see who wins the punt returner job.

Share your items to watch in the comments.

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