Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys: Please, No Green Day

Dak Prescott will certainly face new challenges against the Bengals defense. Photo Courtesy: Keith Allison
Dak Prescott will certainly face new challenges against the Bengals defense.
Photo Courtesy: Keith Allison
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By Zach Walker

Game Info
Cincinnati Bengals vs Dallas Cowboys
Sunday – October 9 – 3:25 p.m.
TV: CBS
AT&T Stadium – Arlington – Texas

Records Before the Game
Cincinnati Bengals (2-2, 1-1 Away)
Dallas Cowboys (3-1, 1-1 Home)

Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
WR A.J. Green – I say this more in hope than in reality, because A.J. Green IS going to get his. Though the Dallas secondary looks to have been playing better, and Mo Claiborne deserves his fair share of credit for being very good through the first quarter of the season. A.J. Green is a top-two wide receiver in the league. The more important factor that makes Green so damn dangerous is that Andy Dalton will just seem to wing the ball near Green and he’ll make the play. Going off of this season so far, when Green is on Mo’s side of the field, I’ll feel nervous. When he’s on Brandon Carr’s side, I’ll be terrified.

Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
DE DeMarcus Lawrence – Last week, I said Chaz Green, and he was actually pretty damn strong against DeForest Buckner for the whole game. I understand, expecting Lawrence to just show up, armor up, and get two sacks right out of the gate, is just drunken fan hope. However, him showing up, getting into the rotation maybe as a third down only rusher, isn’t a leap of faith. Lawrence hasn’t taken this fact by the horns, but he IS the most important piece to this defense. I know Tyrone Crawford is a beast, but he faces interior linemen double teams and still manages to be a tough out. DeMarcus Lawrence is coming around tackle to attack the quarterback at his most vulnerable. When he’s out there against the Bengals, he needs to affect Andy Dalton.

Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Bengals’ running back duo – Jeremy Hill is more of the traditional power back, and will give the linebackers a full game effort. Giovanni Bernard is a very capable runner of his own, but adds a set of great hands out of the backfield, that will likely keep Bryon Jones and the safeties busy for sixty minutes. The Bengals will likely continue to be without Tyler Eifert, who was on track to debut in this game. If they are, having a strong running game, with backs that are both very capable should open stuff for downfield success for Dalton to Green.

Which group will give the Bengals fits?
The Cowboys’ passing game – This might seem a tad bit off menu, but let’s give the credit where it has actually been earned. Dak Prescott is playing strong, and that’s short changing him by a lot. The Cowboys at this point in the season lead the NFL in third down conversions and subsequently drives of ten or more plays. Now, that does have a lot to do with the running game, but credit to the helmsman, because he’s been outstanding. Prescott isn’t dazzling with fireballs down the field, but he’s attacking the eight to twenty yard range with veteran precision. He’s daggering teams, with throws the Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. That touchdown pass to Brice Butler was a beautiful scapula slice, and that tunnel screen to seal the game was absolutely excellent. I’ve seen all the quarterbacks coming into the league like a hawk since 2010, I’ve liked some, hated others, coveted some. Though Jameis Winston is my favorite young gun, with all his moxy, grit, and strength, I see such an inverse coolness to Dak Prescott’s game, and as hyperbolic as it is to say what I’m going to say, he has this almost Brady-like coolness to his game demeanor and there is a serious belief in Prescott.

What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
Watching the 49ers’ game, the Cowboys cannot just throw blitzes at the Bengals and not get to Dalton, or they will lose, and that there is a promise. Running that ball the way the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott are running is such a treat to watch. Travis Frederick had a killer game versus the 49ers.

Prediction: Dallas 24 – Cincinnati 23. I think Prescott will get his first late game heroics here.