The Dallas Cowboys will beat the Cincinnati Bengals if…
By Tyrone Starr
In preparation for the best team they have faced, the Dallas Cowboys need to control this aspect of the game in order to extend their winning streak.
The Dallas Cowboys have won three straight games. Depending on who you talk to, that’s either extremely impressive or it’s a product of their schedule.
The last three wins came at the expense of Washington (2-2), Chicago (1-3) and San Francisco (1-4). You play who they put in front of you, but that’s not exactly a “murderer’s row” either.
Week Five will present the Dallas Cowboys with their stiffest challenge to date.
The Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) may not be impressive when it comes to wins and losses. Regardless of that, this is a super talented team. They have an upper level quarterback in Andy Dalton. They also have a two-headed monster at running back with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.
Most of all, they have one of the top three wide receivers in the National Football League.
Simply put, A.J. Green is a problem.
In his previous five seasons, he’s never had less than 1,000 yards receiving. Three of the five seasons, he produced double-digit touchdowns. This year, he’s leading the league in receptions and is third in yards.
He is the focal point of the Bengals offense. He’s also the key to this game.
If the Dallas Cowboys are to come away victorious over the Cincinnati Bengals, they must slow down A.J. Green.
Notice I did not say “shut down.” It’s the rare situation that Green is ever a complete non-factor. In fact, over 80 career games, he has less than 50 yards and no touchdowns in the same game just 13 times.
Just how much do the Bengals rely on Green’s productivity? In their last six wins, Green has 613 yards and six touchdowns. In their last six losses, he only almost 200 yards less and half the touchdowns.
So, how will the Cowboys go about accomplishing this task?
The first order of business will be to constantly assign two guys to him.
If he does ever draw one-on-one coverage though, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr have the experience of going against another beast at that position.
The day-to-day battles against Dez Bryant should help prepare both of them for a one of a kind talent like Green.
Another aspect that the Dallas Cowboys have going in their favor is what the Bengals do not have. Not only will tight end Tyler Eifert miss this game, but also Cincinnati is missing two big weapons on the outside.
Last year, Green had Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones to help take away some of the attention he draws every week. Sanu is now with the Falcons and Jones is in Detroit. Currently Jones is second in the league in receiving yards. The two have combined for 56 catches, 634 yards and 3 touchdowns so far in 2016.
That’s a decent amount of production gone from this passing game. To put that in perspective, the next four current Bengals’ passing targets have totaled 55 catches for 647 yards and just one score.
Lastly, the Cowboys defense must get creative.
Dropping linebackers into coverage on Green’s side will be key. Bumping him at the line and trying to disrupt his timing will be helpful as well.
The biggest help though should come from safety Byron Jones. While Carr and Claiborne usually play a particular side in most of the defensive schemes, the Cowboys would be wise to put Jones over the top in bracket coverage on Green.
Next: Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Six Game Predictions
Jones possesses the speed to stay with Green should he get free on a deep route, which is likely to happen at some point. The Cowboys have given up far too many big plays already this year. Doing so against Green could be fatal to their chances of winning.
Will they execute?
Dallas Cowboys 31, Cincinnati Bengals 27