NFL Cincinnati BengalsDallas Cowboys

Cowboys vs. Bengals NFL Week 14 Preview

1 of 6

Cowboys vs. Bengals NFL Week 14

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

At one point in time having the Cincinnati Bengals on the schedule was an almost guaranteed win, but these aren’t the Bengals of old.

No, these Bengals are young, hungry and talented. Led by quarterback Andy Dalton and powered by the strong play of the offensive and defensive lines, these Bengals are a dangerous team.

Ultimately, I think this game will come down to which defense can stop the opposing team’s quarterback and wide receiver duo.

Unlike the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, which featured stars like Bryce Brown, Bradley Cooper and Nick Foles, the Bengals will have their best players on the field. It will be up to Rob Ryan to make the necessary adjustments to stop the Bengals’ offense.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is having a career year and can tie a franchise record by getting his fourth consecutive 100-yard game. The connection between wide receiver A.J. Green and Dalton is one, which rivals that of any quarterback-receiver combination in the league and is getting better with every game played.

The Bengals defense leads the league with 39 sacks, ranks eight in yards allowed per game and hasn’t permitted a red-zone touchdown in three games. They have had 13 players contribute to their league-high 39 sacks. Their sack leader, Geno Atkins, leads the team with 9.5 sacks. He’s followed by Michael Johnson with eight, and Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry with four each.

It will be interesting to see how the woeful offensive line holds up against the Bengals pass-rush because if it does, I have no doubt, the Bengals will find out first-hand why Terrence Newman and Adam Jones were released.

Here are my five keys to coming out of Cincinnati with a “W.”

2 of 6

DeMarco Murray

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Run the Football

The Dallas Cowboys have been awful running the ball. In fact, they rank near the bottom of the league with an average of 82.4 rushing yards per game. The Bengals defense is built much like the New York Giants defense in my opinion. They’re fast on the outside and have some quality pass-rushers, but they can be run on. They’re allowing 110.2 yards per game and can get worn down behind a consistent and effective effort on the ground.

However, if the Cowboys fall behind early on, there’s no doubt in my mind that Mike Zimmer will release the hounds on Romo. The Cowboys must establish the run to keep the Bengals defense honest.

3 of 6

Tony Romo

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Protect the Quarterback

It will be up to the Cowboys’ offense to carry the team going forward. The defense is banged up and starting guys who were sitting on their couches a few weeks ago. So, it’s even more crucial that the offensive line anchor down and give Tony Romo time to get the ball downfield.

4 of 6

Dez Bryant

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Feed the Beast

Dez Bryant is evolving into a true playmaker and needs to get the ball in his hands as often as possible. Adam Jones said this game means a little extra to him, so the Cowboys need to give him a chance to prove it.

5 of 6

Andy Dalton

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Get to Dalton

Dalton got off to a shaky start this season, but has since excelled. During the Bengals' four-game win-streak, Dalton has thrown for 850 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Getting to him will ensure that he can’t get the ball to Green who is averaging over 100 yards per game over that same span.

6 of 6

Romo and Jason Witten

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Play with Intensity

Teams on winning streaks will sometimes overlook an opponent, and for that reason, the Cowboys need to come out firing on all cylinders. Catch the Bengals sleeping and take the crowd out of the game. Beating the Bengals will not only keep the Cowboys’ playoff hopes alive, but also it will throw a wrench in the Bengals’ plans.