Week 14: Dallas Cowboys At Cincinnati Bengals
- QuarterbackTony Romo takes a lot of criticism but he is throwing the ball well and has thrown more TD passes than any other quarterback in Cowboy history. He has thrown a lot of interceptions this season – 15 – but much of that is due to receivers who run improper patterns and an offensive line that blocks poorly and has put him at risk.Andy Dalton didn’t play his best game against the Chargers, but he led his team to a comeback win on the road in the fourth quarter. That’s what good quarterbacks do. He should be much more comfortable going back to his homefield and throwing to his explosive receivers. Dalton is completing 63.4 percent of his passes and he has a 23-14 TD-interception ratio.
- OffenseThe Cowboys have gotten next to nothing from their running game this season. That means it’s easy to gameplan against them because you don’t have to respect what they are going to get from the running game. Dez Bryant is one of the most talented receivers in the league, but he’s not dependable to follow through properly on his assignments. Jason Witten is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league.The Bengals have gotten quite a bit of balance from their offense this season. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a hardworking and productive player who has run for 885 yards and is averaging 3.9 yards per carry. A.J. Green is one of the most explosive receivers in the league and he should be a Pro Bowl player with 76-1,107-10 this season. Jermaine Gresham can make tough catches at the tight end position.
- DefenseThe Cowboys have speed and big-play ability on defense. They rank 11th in overall defense and 10th against the pass. It starts with outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware who has 10.0 sacks and four forced fumbles. Inside linebacker Bruce Carter has a team-high 70 tackles and always finds a way to put the ball carrier on the ground.The Bengals have shown some improvement and tenacity on the defensive side of the ball. They rank eighth in overall defense and are fairly athletic. They are tough to run against, thanks to defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. Inside linebacker Rey Maualuga has a team-high 96 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Cowboys have struggled with their kicking in years past, but Dan Bailey has given them much more consistency this season. Bailey has connected on 23-of-25 field goal attempts this season. Brian Moorman has dropped 17 of his 35 punts inside the 20 yard line.The Bengals have had some weak spots on special teams but they have bounced back recently. Kevin Huber is a solid punter who is averaging 46.6 yards per boot this season. Mike Nugent has been decent but not great for Marvin Lewis, making 19-of-23 FG attempts.
The Bengals have turned it around nicely after a midseason slump. They have reeled off four straight wins and they should be in a good position to keep the streak alive with a home game against an up-and-down Cowboys team. Dallas has had a hard time stringing together winning performances.