KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas. TV — CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 7-4, including 5-1 as the home team. The Bengals haven’t beaten the Cowboys in Dallas since a 38-24 win in 1988.
The Cincinnati Bengals face a crucial test this Sunday when they travel to Dallas, Texas to face the 3-1 Dallas Cowboys. Crucial because they already trail the Steelers and Ravens by a game in the AFC North, and they can’t afford to be 2-3 going to New England the next week. The Cowboys ,on the other hand, are off to a surprising 3-1 start to the season.
Keys to the game
Bengals stopping the run: The Bengals are ranked 9th overall in total defense and will be faced with the task of facing one of the best offensive lines in football. The Cowboys rushing attack is led by rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott who leads the NFL in rushing yards. The return last week of LB Vontaze Burfict gives me more confidence that the Bengals can at leat slow the Cowboys rushing game down.
Dak Prescott v.s Bengals secondary: Prescott has 132 pass attempts without an interception in four games but Brice Butler and Terrance Williams can’t replace the injured Dez Bryant. The Bengals secondary has not played well so far this year, missed coverages are killing the Bengals and they must clean that up here. The biggest threat to the Bengals if Bryant does not play will be Cowboys TE Jason Witten, in the past, the Bengals have had trouble covering the tight end position.
Bengals in the Red Zone: Cincinnati needs to convert touchdowns in the red zone, not field goals, which has been the result of nine of the team’s 13 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line this season.
It would help to get TE Tyler Eifert (13 touchdowns last season) back on the field, but he missed the first four games with an ankle injury and had back spasms Wednesday, and is unlikely to play.
Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne vs. Bengals WR A.J. Green: Claiborne is having the best season of anyone in the Cowboys secondary. He leads the league in lowest completion percentage against. But he will have his toughest challenge in terms of size and speed against Green, who has 32 catches for 468 yards and two touchdowns in three games. Green maybe having the best year of any WR not named Jones in the NFL.
Pick: I believe the Bengals will slow down Elliott , which will put pressure on Dak Prescott to win the game. Unfortunately for Prescott, I don’t think without Bryant that he will have enough weapons to accomplish that in this game. The Bengals offense will get just enough done to win this game, look for A.J. Green to have a big day. Bengals 24 Cowboys 17