2021 Record: 10-7 (Lost in the Super Bowl)
Last Meeting: 12/13/2020 (Dallas Cowboys won 30-7 and lead all-time series 9-4)
Head Coach: Zac Taylor (16-33 as a Head Coach)
Key Additions: OT La’el Collins, OG Alex Cappa, TE Hayden Hurst, C Ted Karras
Key Departures: DT Larry Ogunjobi, TE CJ Uzomah,
After a solid 10-7 regular season, Joe Burrow and their high-powered offense found their stride at the perfect time and surprised the entire league on their way to a Super Bowl appearance. Ultimately the Bengals found themselves on the losing end of a Los Angeles Rams championship season, but what the Bengals did in the process was announce themselves to the football world that they are a team to respect. The Burrow-to-JaMarr Chase connection has grown from their days at LSU and is one of the league’s best duos. Add that to the retooled offensive line with Burrow’s protection in mind and a good rushing attack manned by Joe Mixon and company, the Bengals are a tough, explosive offensive football team for this Dallas Cowboys team to face in week two.
However, it’s not just offensively that the Cowboys will have their hands full as the Bengals defense, manned by defensive end Trey Hendrickson coming off 14 sacks in 2021, will look to be another test for this young, banged-up offensive line. The Bengals secondary isn't all-world, but definitely is one to respect as well as it is manned by star safety Jessie Bates III and familiar face Chidobe Awuzie. Where the Cowboys may be able to exploit an opportunity is by looking at Eli Apple as he has been known to being susceptible to a big play or two. With that being said, the Bengals have enough all around defensive depth to present another challenge for this struggling offensive unit manned by backup quarterback Cooper Rush.
Player to watch… Joe Burrow, QB
Joe Burrow is one of the brightest young stars of this league. No doubt about it. The third-year QB from LSU has that ‘it’ factor you often here people around the league talk about as an intangible needed from a quarterback that looks to be successful. When Burrow has the ball in his hand, and his best friend and go-to guy JaMarr Chase out wide, the Bengals confidently, and correctly, feel like they can make plays happen at any point in a game. Burrow finished 2021 with 4,611 passing yards, 34 touchdowns and an impressive passer rating of 108.3.
The Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase combination may be heating up! pic.twitter.com/O4EouZLD2B— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) September 11, 2022
Burrow is fresh off a wacky week one versus the Pittsburgh Steelers where he threw four interceptions in a tough overtime loss. Burrow and the offense will look to take out some of that frustration and get back on track against this beaten and battered Cowboys team that did hang tough defensively against Tampa Bay, but will be once again tested by another quality team. The Cowboys will have to do so without the services of Jayron Kearse as the safety will be out this week with a knee injury. If the Cowboys want to have any chance of pulling of a victory this week they will need to frustrate Burrows and recreate his turnover ways from week one.
Don’t forget about… Eli Apple, CB
If the Cowboys offensive staff are looking for a spot on this defense that they may have an advantage, it may come by way of cornerback Eli Apple. The Cowboys are very familiar with the former New York Giant, and although the weapons on the outside are not what we are used to, this may be a matchup with a player Kellen Moore and staff can look to scheme up advantageous situations.
For Cooper Rush and company to compete with this tough Bengals team, they are going to need to get creative in their attack. Finding ways to isolate CeeDee Lamb on Apple to present a winnable matchup may be the key. Eli Apple can be beaten in man coverage, and if put in on an island, the Cowboys may be able to use Lamb and his separation to create a mismatch out wide. That attack coupled with continuing to run the ball with conviction through Ezekiel Elliott, and getting Tony Pollard more involved, could be a recipe that works for this Cowboys offense.
The question remains how will the Bengals attack the Cowboys offense and their less-than-stellar passing attack, and how will the Cowboys respond to that game plan. Will they roll Awuzie to Lamb’s side every down or are they comfortable letting the cornerbacks play side specific while letting matchups come to them. This is not to say that Apple can’t come out and play well. He has shown he can make plays; it’s just looking at this defensive unit and finding the matchups the Cowboys are built to win against, and Eli Apple fits that bill. All in all, it is just simply going to be up to Moore to find out early what matchup is favorable and find a way to attack this defense.