While Cowboys fans had to seemingly wait forever to ultimately watch the team get steamrolled by the Ravens, their next game against the Bengals has come at a breakneck speed. With just four full days between their Tuesday night matchup in Baltimore and their Sunday morning matchup in Cincinnati, the Cowboys won’t have much time to get over their ugly loss.
This marks Andy Dalton’s return to Cincinnati after nine years as the starting quarterback for the Bengals, where he set many franchise records. Of course, Dalton’s Cowboys at 3-9 aren’t really doing much to make Bengals fans miss him dearly, but the 2-9-1 Bengals don’t have much room to talk. Thus, Dallas is slightly favored to win this one, but does that give our writers any confidence?
When Cincinnati has the ball
Take advantage of the get-right game
The Dallas defense can’t be feeling too good about themselves after giving up nearly 300 rushing yards in one game on Tuesday. The good news is they get to face this Bengals offense that currently ranks 30th in offensive DVOA. Losing running back Joe Mixon in Week 6 and quarterback Joe Burrow in Week 11 has plunged this offense into the cellar. They’ve failed to cross 200 total yards of offense each of the last two weeks, and have only run for 100 or more rushing yards four times this whole season.
There’s not much this offense does right at the moment, largely due to a lack of playmakers. That sets up the Cowboys defense for a perfect opportunity to show signs of life after being annihilated by the Ravens’ dynamic rushing attack. They also have a golden opportunity to build on their recent string of takeaways. Dallas has eight takeaways through their last five games; Cincinnati has turned it over at least twice in each of their last four contests.
When Dallas has the ball
The Cowboys would have been playing an extremely close game on Tuesday night if they had 1) put the ball in the endzone instead of settling for field goals, and 2) made those field goals they settled for. While Dallas finished with nearly as many yards as Baltimore and more first downs, they had a fraction of the points after fizzling out on most of their drives.
That’s understandable, given the state of this offensive roster and the quality of the Ravens defense, but there’s no such excuse against Cincinnati. As one of the worst units across the board, Cincinnati is especially bad at making the offense stall on their drives. Their 42.7% third down conversion rate allowed is 11th highest, their 63.6% fourth down conversion rate allowed is ninth highest, and they’re giving up touchdowns on 64.4% of opposing offenses’ red zone appearances, which is both 11th highest in the league while also featuring the ninth most red zone appearances allowed. In other words, the Cowboys should have no problem finishing their drives.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Nothing ruins your chances to win a game more than inept quarterback play, and that is what the Bengals are dealing with right now. While the Cowboys defense is completely out of sorts and can make even the meek offenses look sharp, they would have to fall to a new low to not make stops in this game. Of course, this completely incompetent coaching staff just might be able to oblige.
Offensively, the Cowboys will have some success, but the Bengals defense is pretty solid so don’t be surprised if Dallas finds a way to squander scoring opportunities. Look for Tank to have a big game and Jaylon to almost have a big play as the Bengals offense tries to give the game away, but rest assure this Cowboys team will find a way (probably a collapse on special teams) to let us down yet again.
Bengals 19, Cowboys 17
This may be the best chance the Cowboys have of getting one more win this season. If they don’t beat the Bengals, they may finish 3-13. But it is very much in question whether they can. The defense elevates the opposition, particularly the run game. Offensively, Dallas can move the ball even with the beaten-up offensive line, but they still run into a wall in the red zone. And now we can’t even trust Greg Zuerlein to salvage three points at the end of drives, although his terrible performance may be due to the notoriously bad conditions for kickers in Baltimore.
Still, the Cowboys would need to figure how to eke out enough points to prevail. I think they will just barely manage to do so in a bad game, but that will be more because the Bengals are just a wee bit worse, averaging only 19.8 points a game. Look for Andy Dalton to find his receivers just enough to win, but this is not a prediction made with any real confidence, especially with the short week for Dallas.
Cowboys 23, Bengals 17.
Wow, this could very well be the last game the Cowboys have a good shot at winning this season. Facing off against a Bengals team minus their young star quarterback in Joe Burrow and starting running back Joe Mixon. So it will be a battle of the backups with Andy Dalton returning to the city that drafted him looking to get the final laugh.
The Cowboys have the advantage on offense going up against a defense that hasn’t really been able to stop anyone all season. They also have the advantage on defense going up against an offensive line that has surrendered 44 sacks this season. Look for the Cowboys to attack the Bengals offense through the air early taking advantage of their lack of a pass rush. While on defense the try to create more pressure by ramping up their blitzing.
Cowboys 28, Bengals 27
After what we saw from Dallas on defense Tuesday night, I think even the woeful Cincinnati Bengals will cause the Cowboys plenty of problems. Despite being without Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon, I still think the Bengals will move the football. The Dallas run defense has been so bad recently there may not be a team in the league that couldn’t move the ball on them. On offense, I think Andy Dalton is once again pretty average. And Zeke has another 75-80 yard day, but once again, it’s not enough. Nothing this team showed us on Tuesday gives me any reason to pick them.
It’s going to be an ugly game, but give me Cincinnati 20-17.
Even after I got burned for my faith in the Cowboys to pull off the upset last week, I’m still a believer. Of course, that has more to do with the Bengals being aggressively bad than the Cowboys being good right now. Prior to losing Joe Burrow, the Bengals were as bad as this Cowboys team currently is, which is to say they were competitive but rarely a threat to win. Since losing their star quarterback, the Bengals have become as bad as Cowboys fans think their team is.
Everything is set up perfectly for the Cowboys to play a complete game in all three phase of the game. The only thing that can stop them from doing so is themselves, which is highly possible. However, I expect them to come out with a chip on their shoulder after the last game and absolutely dominate.
Cowboys 37, Bengals 16.