The Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1) host the Dallas Cowboys (3-9) in a matchup of disappointing 2020 teams playing with backup quarterbacks. Of course, the biggest storyline remaining is the “homecoming” to Cincinnati for Dallas signal-caller Andy Dalton.
On paper, the two teams are strikingly similar. Aside from each’s quarterback situation, both have been decimated by injuries this season and have played startlingly poor on defense. With that in mind, this could be one of the most entertaining games this weekend between a pair of teams that have nothing to lose.
Dak Prescott (compound fracture, dislocation) and Joe Burrow (multiple ligament tears) are both gone for the season after ugly injuries, leaving fans with a Dalton versus Brandon Allen matchup. Neither has performed well in their time under center.
In five starts for the Cowboys, the “Red Rifle” has amassed a 1-4 record while throwing for 1,155 yards to go with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He has appeared in seven games in 2020 and holds a rating of 50.0. The Dallas defense has not done the TCU product any favors, either; they have coughed up over 30 points in five of those seven games, forcing the quarterback to play from behind often.
Allen has started two games for the Bengals after Ryan Finley finished a game in the absence of Burrow post-injury. While Allen holds a 72.3 passer rating in those affairs, his numbers leave a lot to be desired for Cincinnati fans, posting a total of 289 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of picks while being sacked seven times. To say this is the moment Bengals’ fans now miss Dalton would be a massive understatement.
You Look Like Me(e)
Another appropriate comparison between the two teams is that of their rookie wide receivers. The Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb and Bengals’ Tee Higgins have been two of the best offensive players to come out of April’s NFL Draft.
Lamb boasts 59 catches (90 targets) for 696 yards and four trips to paydirt. In Cincy, Higgins has 53 catches (84 targets) with five trips to the end zone. Each has also carried the ball as well, with Lamb getting seven touches out of the backfield compared to Tamaurice’s five.
Assuming their respective quarterbacks can get the ball to their wideouts, the matchup of two of the NFL’s best rookies from Power-5 conferences could be a fun one to watch.
Hall of Mirrors
Here is why the Cowboys-Bengals matchup should be must-see TV: No Defense. FOX might as well air this game in black-and-white as this may very well end up being an AFL-style matchup.
Dallas has given up 393 points in 12 games this season while Cincinnati has surrendered 308 of their own. Those numbers are good for last place and 20th, respectively.
The Cowboys are minus-13 in turnovers. The Bengals? Minus-7. It’s worth mentioning that the two have played a pair of the weakest schedules in the league with the visitors having a whopping 1.0 SoS and Cincinnati holding an SoS of -0.3. If you are scoring at home, those are not impressive numbers.
Bengals: 13 sacks. Cowboys: 22. Odds of a coach getting fired first? According to Vegas, Zac Taylor and Mike McCarthy come in at second and third. Place your bets.
Date: December 13, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 P.M. EST
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium
TV Info: FOX
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Point Spread: DAL -3 (-110) | CIN +3 (-110)
Moneyline: DAL -165 | CIN +135
Over/Under: O 43 (-110) | U 43 (-110)
Given the way these two teams have played thus far in 2020, there is no reason to touch the moneyline as neither presents any value. If you speak to fans of either team, they will likely also tell you to stay away from the three-point spread due to some serious coaching head-scratchers.
The bet here is the over. As atrocious as Cincinnati has looked on offense without Burrow and Dalton’s propensity to turn the ball over for Dallas, each team should still see a multitude of scoring opportunities thanks to their anemic defenses. 43 points is unbelievably low for any game in 2020, and bettors should be looking at this as an early Christmas present from Las Vegas. Jump on it and put that money towards a PS5.
The moral of the story: Expect turnovers, scoring, and some Keystone Cops-style moments in this one; it should be a fun game.
The narrative that this is some sort of “revenge game” for Dalton is overblown; he asked to be released and was granted that request with the Bengals’ best wishes. Not only that, but frankly he is not a “revenge” type of guy, anyway.
This game comes down to whichever club runs the ball more effectively. Giovani Bernard has shown significant burst when actually given the chance and Ezekiel Elliott has quietly rung up nearly 800 yards this season with four games remaining. With all things considered equal, the Bengals wear down a Dallas defense playing on a short week (after a surprise Tuesday night game) and get their third win of the season going away. Dalton is forced to throw the ball throughout the fourth quarter and Cincinnati’s secondary eventually makes him pay.
Final Score: Dallas 20, Cincinnati 31
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images