#471 Cincinnati Bengalsvs.#472 Dallas Cowboys
Written by Ricky Dimon
When: Sunday, October 9 at 4:25 p.m.
The Line: Cincinnati Bengals -1. Total: 45.
The Dallas Cowboys will be attempting to win their fourth game in a row when they host the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Dallas opened the season with a loss to the NFC East rival Giants, but it has since reeled off victories over Washington, Chicago, and Cincinnati. The Bengals are 2-2 and coming off a 22-7 home win at Miami’s expense.
Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict returned from a three-game suspension to face the Dolphins last Thursday night, meaning he has some action under his belt heading into a huge showdown with Dallas on Sunday. Burfict played 34 snaps (76 percent) against Miami, recording two solo tackles and one assist to go along with one pass defensed. Although the numbers were modest, at least one teammate was impressed.
“You see the plays that he made coming off the couch,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said of Burfict following the win over Miami. “That’s not an average football player. That’s something that you can’t coach.”
Cincinnati has given up a combined grand total of only 114 rushing yards in the last two games.
The Cowboys prevailed at San Francisco even without their starting quarterback (Tony Romo), No. 1 receiver (Dez Bryant), starting left tackle (Tyron Smith), and one of their top cornerbacks (Orlando Scandrick). For those counting, those four players take up more than $45 million of the team’s $159 salary cap this season. Backup QB Dak Prescott continued his fine form in place of Romo by completing 23 of 32 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We’re resilient, man,” noted Brice Butler, who got the start in Bryant’s absence and made five catches for 41 yards and a score. “We’re not going to worry about the scenarios and the circumstances. We’re just going to execute. Nobody’s going to give us the excuse. We’ve just got to go out and do it. There’s no Tony Romo (or) Dez Bryant card to get out of jail free if we lose. If we lose, we lose. So we’ve got to do it and we’re going to keep on doing it.”
Romo is out for the foreseeable future, while the statuses of Bryant, Smith, and Scandrick are unclear for Week 5.
The Cincinnati Bengals are:
The Dallas Cowboys are:
Burfict also missed time last season, seven weeks due to injury to be exact. The 2015 Bengals allowed an average of 82.2 rushing yards per game, compared to 109.2 per contest when Burfict did not play. Although the Cowboys have done well without a number of stars, the injuries may catch up with them sooner rather than later–especially against a confident defense like that of Cincinnati. “They’re a great o-line, and honestly I think any running back could run behind them,” Burfict said of Dallas’ offensive front. “Just find the hole for Ezekiel and obviously hit it.” The Bengals are 14-5-2 ATS in their last 21 overall, 9-1 ATS in their last 10 on the road, 9-3-2 ATS in their last 14 following a win, and 5-2 ATS in their last seven on the road against opponents with winning home records. Cincinnati is 16-34-1 ATS in its last 51 at home, 1-7 ATS in its last eight Week 5 outings, and 7-18-1 ATS in its last 26 on fieldturf. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.
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A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.