One of the great things about working at The Landry Hat, and the Fansided Sports Network, is our access to different experts. Since our network has a site for every NFL team, I’d thought I’d get an insider’s take on the upcoming Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals game from “behind enemy lines”. Therefore, I present these five in-depth questions with the editor of our Bengals’ site, Stripehype.com, Jason Marcum.
1. It appears running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been on a tear for the last three games. Do you see him going for another 100+ rushing yards this Sunday? And what was the reason(s) for his slow start?
JM: I do assuming your stud nose-tackle, Jay Ratliff is out due to his strained groin. The Cowboys have been gashed in the running game this year, and the Bengals are on a roll due in large part to their renewed dedication to establishing the run game. Earlier in the year, they were breaking in three new starting offensive lineman, including rookie guard Kevin Zeitler and rookie undrafted center Trevor Robinson. Slowly they have developed into one of the NFL’s better offensive lines, and only seem to be getting better every week.
2. What did you think of Guard Nate Livings while he was with the Bengals, and now that he is on the Cowboys’ O-line?
JM: With the Bengals, he was a bit of an enigma. He had flashes of greatness at times, followed by moments that made you wonder how he was a starting NFL lineman. He seems to have found himself in Dallas, as he is the 15th-rated offensive guard according to Pro football Focus, though he has allowed six sacks this year. I don’t know if that’s in part due to Tony Romo holding the ball too long to look for the big play, or he’s still a major liability at guard. Either way, I see defensive tackle Geno Atkins having a big day against whoever lines up at that spot.
3. How well has Terence Newman transitioned onto the Bengal’s defense since moving over from Dallas last season?
JM: He got off to a rough start this year, but as the season wore on and he learned the system better, his play has significantly improved. A lot of that also has to do with the front seven playing better and getting more pressure on opposing QBs and not leaving Newman on an island. It will be interesting to see how he plays this week, as the Cowboy’s receiver corp of Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, as well as tight end Jason Witten, he’ll be tested against his former team. I don’t see him holding up against Bryant and/or Miles if the Bengals can’t get pressure on Romo.
4. With Mohamed Sanu out for the year, who will replace his recent offensive production?
JM: Rookie receiver Marvin Jones was actually ahead of Sanu on the depth chart foressentially all of the preseason and the regular season until he injured his knee on a kickoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game he was set to get his first career start in. Once he went down, Sanu was thrown into the lineup and played very well. With Sanu out last week, Jones got his first career start, accounting for two receptions on three targets for just 20 yards. The coaching staff believes in him and thinks he’s ready to breakout any week now. Hopefully it’s this week.
5. What is your prediction for Sunday’s match-up?
JM: This game will be close throughout. Neither side will lay down with their playoff lives on the line. This essentially is a playoff game, as it will be hard for the loser to bounce back with a difficult remaining schedule and make the postseason. I think the Bengals defensive line is too much for the Cowboys’ offensive line to handle, and keep Romo contained.
On offense, The Bengals will look to attack the Cowboy’s weak front seven and allow Green-Ellis to have another big day while also controlling the clock and keeping Romo off the field as they win a hard-fought 20-17 game.