When the Cowboys and Bengals meet it usually results in a blowout. Through 12 games in 43 years, seven were decided by at least 14 points. Their first three meetings were lopsided with the Cowboys winning the first two by a combined 53 points and the Bengals exacting revenge with a 26-point victory next game.
Dallas has won eight of the 12 meetings including the most recent three and four of the last five. Cincinnati’s last victory came in 2004 when the Bengals forced five turnovers from the Cowboys. This was Vinny Testaverde’s last full season and Carson Palmer’s first season as starting quarterbacks.
The Bengals have enjoyed more success in recent seasons making consecutive playoff appearances while the Cowboys have been inconsistent. Yet the Cowboys have still beaten them regardless where they play. Cincinnati only has one win in Dallas (1988).
Dallas is currently fielding a mediocre team but one with promise thanks to a young core on offence. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is slowly declining. Their time as a playoff team is ending if it hasn’t yet. Given these circumstances, the Cowboys should continue defeating the Bengals.
Cincinnati Bengals Recent History
The Bengals had their heyday in the ’80s when they were led by superstar quarterbacks like Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason. They made two Super Bowl appearances, both losses to Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers. Then the team entered a long dark period through the ’90s and early 2000’s.
Enter Marvin Lewis. The long-time Bengals’ coach successfully revitalized the franchise getting them back to a winning season in 2005, the first since 1990. But the franchise would plateau here as the Bengals would fail to win a playoff game in seven tries for the next 12 seasons.
Cincinnati once boasted one of the most prolific defences at the start of the decade. They won the division twice in 2013 and 2015 and had five seasons between 2009 and 2015 with a winning record of 10 or more games. But they never got over the hump and Lewis staying as the coach means this team isn’t going anywhere but down.
Dallas Cowboys Recent History
Millennials likely won’t remember the time when the Cowboys were “America’s Team”. While they still bear that moniker, they have been a shell of their dynasty version during the 1990’s where they captured three Super Bowls in four years.
Since their last Super Bowl in 1995, the Cowboys have only won three playoff games in nine appearances and have alternated losing seasons with winning seasons. They haven’t had back-to-back double-digit winning seasons and have missed the playoffs in six of the last eight years.
Tony Romo, Dallas’s last Pro Bowl-calibre quarterback retired a few seasons back and the Cowboys are now at the beginning of the Prescott era with mixed results. Ezekiel Elliott is an All-Pro running back but with few other playmakers on offence, the Cowboys still have plenty of building to do before they can recapture their contender status.
Cincinnati Bengals Outlook
Bleak. There is no other way to put it for Cincinnati fans. They watched in agony for a decade as Lewis failed to lead a team with as many seven Pro Bowlers anywhere past the wild card round. And with management basically consisting of just team owner Mike Brown, the Bengals are essentially on a treadmill.
The AFC North is shifting with the Ravens seemingly declining and the Browns making moves. It’s tough to place the Bengals as they could the second-best team or the worst. But they are definitely far from being a legitimate contender and moving their few remaining assets should be what’s next if they are to rebuild.
It starts at quarterback. Andy Dalton is 0-7 in the postseason and has a career rating of 88.4. He just isn’t good enough to help the Bengals compete against the best. If Cincy chooses to stay still and keep plugging holes, they may fall into the purgatory of being a sub-.500 team with a long playoff drought.
Dallas Cowboys Outlook
Optimistic fans will say 2017 was a fluke for Dallas as they dealt with injuries to the defence and a suspension to Zeke. But it’s looking more like 2016 was the fluke season as the Cowboys were uncharacteristically healthy and overachieving.
The heart of their defence, Sean Lee (LB) is always hurt and the unit struggles without him. Then on offence, the once-mighty o-line is missing pieces and new draft pick Connor Williams will take a while to acclimatize. Then there’s the issue of receivers. Dallas cut Dez Bryant and are left with no true number-one threat.
Prescott was the product of a powerful running game and indomitable line two seasons ago but he’ll have to take his game to the next level. If the critics are correct and he is simply an average quarterback, Dallas will be nothing more than an also-ran unless they can make significant upgrades.
The Cowboys will have a significant rushing edge here. Their offensive line, while not perfect anymore, can still open holes where Zeke will burst through a beatable back-seven for the Bengals. But the running game will be neutralized if Cincinnati builds a lead first.
While Dallas has a solid offensive line, the Bengals’ main strength on defence is their defensive line. Geno Atkins s still one of the best tackles and their edge rushers are capable enough to pressure Prescott, who becomes a shell of himself if his pocket gets assaulted.
On the other end, Dalton is unlikely to explode against Dallas but he is slightly more reliable when things get hairy. It’s more likely he leads the Bengals to an early lead where the back-ups can maintain the lead. Matt Barkley ain’t much but he’s at least on the same level as Cooper Rush.
The Bengals struggle in Arlington but they’re due for a victory.