The Cincinnati Bengal’s home opener was a roller coaster ride from the beginning of the game, with them eventually losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime 23-20. During the game, the Stripes faced poor coaching decisions, five turnovers, and seven sacks, all while losing their long-snapper Clark Harris, which certainly affected the kicking game. Even with all that, quarterback Joe Burrow led them back, giving them multiple chances to win. Check out the top football odds!
The Dallas Cowboys also faced challenges while playing in their home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The final score had the Buccaneer’s veteran quarterback Tom Brady coming out on top with a 19-3 win over Dallas. So what should we look for in the Bengal’s first road game where both teams are looking to secure their first win?
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference
The Cowboys took a considerable loss in their game with the Buccaneers, losing their starting quarterback Dak Prescott to a thumb injury. Backup quarterback Cooper Rush is expected to be the next man up. After replacing Prescott in the game, he completed 7-13 passes for 64 yards. The real question is, will Rush be enough to help the team overcome their emotional loss of Prescott?
The Bengal’s defense played an impressive game last week, holding the Steelers to 267 yards while only giving up four out of 15 third downs, so you can most definitely expect Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo to dial-up pressure for the Cowboy’s backup quarterback.
The Cowboy’s offensive line may be in trouble after losing left guard Connor McGovern. Matt Farniok could replace him, or their other option is to bring up nine-time Pro-Bowler Veteran Jason Peters off the practice squad. At age 40, will he be ready to fill in somewhere on the line?
Regardless, the Bengal’s defensive front will present problems for them.
The Bengals signed defensive tackle B.J.Hill to a big contract this off-season, which is already paying dividends. Underrated D.J. Reader is known for his ability to shut down the run. Together with Cam Sample, they should halt the running attack of Cowboys’ star Ezekiel Elliott, who only had 52 yards on ten carries last week.
Defensive end Trey Hendrickson will be hungry for his first sack, especially after not getting one last week, making his match-up with Cowboys first-round draft pick, left tackle Tyler Smith much more interesting. I doubt if Smith has had to face someone as talented as Hendrickson, who had 14 sacks just last season.
Drafted in the second round by the Cowboys, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie now wearing stripes, will have the task of covering their number one receiver Cee Dee Lamb. However, the situation of Dallas starting a new quarterback could affect the quality of targets for Lamb, allowing Awuzie and the secondary to impact the game. Dallas will need to look for more creative ways to move the ball, so I would guess incorporating tight-end Dalton Schutz into the game plan would be an option. He had ten catches for 62 yards last week, but now he will be facing linebacker Logan Wilson who has been playing lights-out football for the Bengals. This certainly will be something to monitor during the game.
Everyone has a bad day at the office, and Bengal’s quarterback Joe Burrow is no exception. Burrow threw four interceptions and had one fumble. Despite this, he still threw for 338 yards with two touchdowns. Burrow actually had three touchdowns, but Coach Taylor never challenged for a review that can not happen again this week. Burrow, being the competitor he is, will be ready to take on this Dallas defense. Feeling more comfortable with his new line and working out the kinks in his game, he should get the ball out much quicker this week.
Right Tackle La’el Collins will be the other ex-Cowboy making his return to his old stomping grounds. He and the rest of the offensive line must keep the Cowboy’s starting linebacker Micah Parsons out of the backfield. Parson’s had a 60% pass rush win rate and was all over Tom Brady. His defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be looking for the best matchups on the line, so do not be surprised if Parsons is across the line from rookie Cordell Volson a few times during the game.
Running back Joe Mixon will need to have a more significant role. Whether catching passes out of the backfield or busting one up the middle, Mixon will need to make his presence known.
Bengal’s multi-talented wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase will once again face another top corner in Cowboys Trevon Diggs. These two have a history together, returning to the 2019 game when LSU beat Alabama for the college championship.
Geoff Hobson, Bengal’s senior writer, wrote about the experience. By consensus and stats, Chase carried that day against Diggs with six catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. Diggs had his moments when he caused Chase to turn occasionally to the refs seeking a call, but remember what he said at the 2020 NFL scouting combine when asked to rate the best wide receivers he faced.
Chase. “He’s real good. He’s a stud,” Diggs said. “Quick, fast, has good hands, runs good routes, he’s a baller.”
I am sure we will witness some physical play out of both of these competitors, but moving Chase around to find a more favorable matchup is likely what we will see. Hopefully, Tee Higgins can return to stretch the field and take pressure off Chase. He went out last week on concussion protocol and has been limited at practice this week. Receiver Tyler Boyd and tight end Hayden Hurst can have a massive game if the Cowboys decide to key in on Chase.
The Bengal’s backup snapper had a role in two uncharacteristically missed field goals against the Steelers last week, causing the Bengals to bring up rookie Cal Adomitis off the practice squad. He was one of the best long-snappers out of college last season and played in every preseason game with the Bengals this year, so he is very familiar with holder Kevin Huber and kicker Evan McPherson. Talk about thinking ahead; it is not every day you carry an extra quality snapper on the practice squad.
With virtually no wind and now a solid snapper, McPherson will be a factor in the game. Depending on the field position, the Cowboys will have to consider McPherson on fourth and one. Not getting the yard instead of punting can be all the difference in the game. Check out the top football betting strategies.
The Bengals will need to get off to a fast start, especially to a Dallas team with significant injuries. The line will need to keep Burrow upright while keeping Parsons at bay so that he does not impact the game. Burrow must push the ball down the field while establishing the run. No turnovers are the name of the game.
The Bengal’s defense has all the weapons to shut down their running game while limiting the Cowboy’s receiving corps, much like the Buccaneers did. The Bengals are positioned to come away with a nice road win. They must show dominance in this game to be considered a real contender in the AFC.
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