The Dallas Cowboys (3-9) will try to shake off another ugly loss in an island game on Tuesday night to take on the Bengals (2-9-1) in Cincinnati on Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, December 13, 2020 – 01:00 PM EDT at Paul Brown Stadium
Can you say Andy Dalton Revenge Game? The ex-Cincinnati quarterback will take on his former team, who will either be starting Brandon Allen or Ryan Finley. Either way, Dalton and the Cowboys will hit another low point in 2020 if they lose this game after being listed as a 3.5-point favorite at most NFL betting sites.
This One’s for Andy
While most teams would view 3-9 as a lost season, the NFC East keeps Dallas alive to start the final quarter of the season. Plus, owner Jerry Jones is far too stubborn to throw in the towel despite a massively disappointing campaign in Mike McCarthy’s first year as coach. Of course, in April this game looked like a matchup of Dak Prescott and Joe Burrow, but neither has made it to Week 14 in this difficult season for both franchises.
You have to expect this is a big one personally for Dalton, who has played much better the last three weeks after returning from a concussion and COVID-19. He knows what it’s like to play behind a talent-less Cincinnati team as he was in this spot a year ago. He’d also be a huge upgrade over the current Cincinnati quarterbacks if he stayed on as Burrow’s backup, but that was never going to happen.
So here is his chance to lead one of the most talented receiving corps in the NFL to a road win with a good performance against his former team. I would say he does not need to score many points to get this win, but unfortunately, Dalton is bringing the Dallas defense with him to this game.
Dallas -efense: No D for the Cowboys
It was comical watching the Baltimore Ravens shred through the Dallas defense on Tuesday night. Baltimore threw just 17 passes for 104 yards but ran the ball 37 times for 294 yards. It has been 11 years since another NFL game produced that kind of run-pass split in production. Whether it is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, or safety Xavier Woods, the Cowboys look lost at all three levels of defense this season.
The 2020 Cowboys are the first team since the 2008 Lions (of 0-16 fame) to allow 393 points through 12 games of a season. Fortunately, they draw a Cincinnati team that is averaging 10.8 points per game over the last month. The Bengals have scored 24 points in two-and-a-half games since Joe Burrow went down. They are likely to start Brandon Allen, who left Sunday’s game with the wind knocked out of him, over Ryan Finley, who has been terrible in his career so far. Either way, the Bengals are severely limited at the most important position.
The Cowboys are also fortunate that the Bengals rank 30th in rushing yards and have not cracked 40 rushing yards in the last two games. The running game has actually gotten worse since Burrow’s injury despite the conventional wisdom that they would rely on it more without their quarterback.
Could Dalton just play quarterback for both teams on Sunday? That would make it more fun than seeing which team tries to get a juicier draft pick from this matchup of teams expecting to pick very high in 2021.
Clearly, I expect the Cowboys to lean on their offensive talent and experience edge at quarterback to win this game and cover the spread on the top sportsbooks.
The more interesting question is if we will continue to see more history with Dallas if this is not a low-scoring victory? The magic number has been 31 points in the last two seasons. The last 11 times the Cowboys won a game, they scored at least 31 points. Only the 2010-11 Patriots have had such a streak in NFL history.
That also means that since 2019, Dallas is 0-15 when it does not score at least 31 points.