Week 5 of the Cowboys 2016 schedule sees the team going out of conference for the first time on the season. Dallas plays the the AFC North this year, and the first opponent from that division is the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are a team that has been putting together quality seasons. They have made the playoffs six out of the last seven years and won their division three times in that time span. Unfortunately for them, they have had little success once they make the playoffs. Last year they were poised to win their playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when they spectacularly imploded in the final minutes, giving away the game on a last-second field goal. Overcoming that loss will be one of their challenges this season.
By the time the Bengals come to Dallas in Week 5, the Cowboys will be getting back two big pieces on defense. The four-game suspensions to DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory will be over, this will hopefully boost the pass rush.
Let's see what's up with the Bengals from our sister blog, Cincy Jungle.
Notable free agent additions: WR Brandon LaFell, LB Karlos Dansby, LB/S Taylor Mays
Notable free agent departures: WR Marvin Jones, WR Mohamed Sanu, RT Andre Smith, DE Wallace Gilberry
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: Tyler Boyd (2nd round, WR), Andrew Billings (4th round, DT)
Biggest offseason addition: Uhhhh.... LaFell or Boyd, I guess, hopefully?!
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: The wide receiver battle is hands down the biggest storyline heading into training camp. The position is essentially completely up in the air, other than A.J. Green being the No. 1. Will LaFell get the No. 2 job? Will Boyd play in the slot? Those things are fairly certain, though still questions. But just about everything else including the No. 4-6 wide receiver spots is up in the air are available for the taking without many (cough, any) big names competing for the jobs. It comes down to 2014 seventh round draft pick James Wright who is coming off microfracture surgery and hasn't played since 2014; 2015 seventh round draft pick Mario Alford who played one game in 2015; Brandon Tate, who has a way of always making the roster due to his return abilities, and then a bunch of undrafted players.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: The Bengals have a new offensive coordinator, their long-time quarterbacks coach, Ken Zampese due to Hue Jackson leaving this offseason to be the head coach of the Browns. No one really knows what to expect with Zampese calling the shots and 2016 will likely prove just how big of an impact Jackson had on the Bengals' offense as well as Andy Dalton's development. Will the Bengals be able to continue their winning ways without Jackson? Some are more optimistic than others when it comes to asking this question.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: Tyler Eifert injured his ankle in the Pro Bowl and now is expected to miss all of training camp and potentially the first few weeks of the regular season. Darqueze Dennard is coming off of a season-ending shoulder injury and is hoping to be back for training camp. Other than that, everyone is fairly healthy. Though, given the wide receiver position, Eifert is a huge piece to the Bengals' offensive puzzle and having him miss time would be a major loss.
Also of note: Vontaze Burfict starts off the season with a three game suspension and Taylor Mays starts off the season with a four game suspension. There's no guarantee Mays will make the roster when his suspension ends. The Bengals play the Jets in Week 1, the Steelers in Week 2 and the Broncos in Week 3 so playing without Burfict during that stretch is far from ideal.
What say you BTB? How do the Cowboys match up with the Bengals and will the 'Boys come out of the game victorious?