Before the Cowboys and Bengals square off, here are three bold predictions for Sunday’s matchup.
1) Ezekiel Elliott surpasses 100 rushing yards for the first time since Week 5 of 2021
It’s pretty hard to believe that almost a full calendar year has passed since the last time Ezekiel Elliott recorded over 100 rushing yards in a game. Post-injury Zeke really struggled down the stretch of the 2021 season, recording less than 50 rushing yards in eight of Dallas’ nine final regular season games.
It’s been 14 games since Elliott reached the 100-yard rushing mark, but he’s finally going to break the streak on Sunday against the Bengals.
Despite allowing just 75 rushing yards to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, the Cincinnati defense struggled at times against the run last season. The Bengals allowed 115 or more rushing yards 10 times during the 2021 campaign. While they did end up winning six of those games, they showed that they can be run on by teams with good rushing attacks.
With Dak Prescott out, the Cowboys lean heavily on Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in the run game, giving them each 15+ carries. This pays off for Dallas as we see the version of Elliott we saw early on last season, and the former All-Pro records his first 100-yard rushing day in almost a full year.
2) Ja’Marr Chase torches Dallas’ secondary, recording 150 receiving yards and scoring two touchdowns
Ja’Marr Chase is just 22 years old and he already might be the best receiver in the entire league. Chase was unguardable during his rookie year in Cincinnati last season, catching 81 passes for 1,455 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. The LSU product’s huge year helped him win the honor of being named Offensive Rookie Of The Year for the 2021 season.
Chase was at his best last season against Cincinnati’s greatest competition. In five games against the Ravens (2), Chiefs, Packers, and Vikings, Chase hauled in 37 receptions for an astounding 852 yards and scored six touchdowns. Not coincidentally, the Bengals went 4-1 in these five games and would have beaten the Packers if it weren’t for missed field goals.
The former first-rounder picked up right where he left off last season in Week 1 against the Steelers. Chase hauled in 10 receptions for 129 yards and scored a touchdown. He looked every bit as good as he did last season and only seems to be getting better in year two. This is bad news for the rest of the NFL, and in particular for the Cowboys who have to try to stop him on Sunday.
The Cowboys, much like the Steelers, won’t be able to contain Chase, and he’ll have another stellar day. The Burrow to Chase connection wreaks havoc on an opposing defense once again, as Chase goes for 150 receiving yards and finds the end zone twice.
3) Cowboys fall apart in the second half, suffering another double-digit defeat
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Cooper Rush-led Cowboys will keep things competitive with the Bengals into the third quarter, but then reality will hit. Burrow connects with Chase on a 50-plus yard touchdown pass, and the floodgates start to open.
The Bengals are too good of a team to have two stinkers in a row, and while it may take them a little more than a half to get things going, they’re going to show they are clearly the better team in this matchup.
The Cowboys come into the third quarter trailing by just three and leave it down three scores. The Bengals pour things on in the second half, delivering the Cowboys their second straight double-digit defeat.