Cincinnati Bengals (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: CIN pk/DAL pk
Over/Under Total: 45.5
The Cincinnati Bengals come to AT&T Stadium on Sunday to face the Dallas Cowboys in a big week five matchup. The Bengals were able to even the slate at 2-2 with a 22-7 win over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday. They get a little extra rest, but are a bit out of their element with their first game in this building. Still, a big win gets them to 3-2 and back on the right track—not a bad deal for a team that started so unevenly. Dallas was able to go to 3-1 on Sunday with a nice road win over the 49ers, 24-17. With another pair of solid performances from rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys continue to show they can finally fend for themselves without the services of Tony Romo. They look to make another statement at home this week against the desperate Bengals.
The Bengals opened the season with a one-point comeback road win over the Jets, 23-22, followed by a 24-16 loss on the road to the Steelers. They finally got home and gave up another fourth-quarter lead to the Denver Broncos, before beating Miami at home on Thursday, 22-7. Miami got off to a first quarter 7-3 lead, before Cincy kept them off the board for the final 54 minutes of the game. Meanwhile, the Cincy offense took care of business, with Miami never able to really climb back into it.
The Cincinnati defense was a big part of the win against Miami, as is often the case with the Bengals. They got Vontaze Burfict back after a three-game suspension and his presence gave them a boost. Burfict in the middle with Rey Maualuga, and Karlos Dansby can be a real difference-making group. The front is still fierce with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko, and Michael Johnson. And the secondary is still tip-top and looks forward to Dre Kirkpatrick getting back. Against Miami, Atkins had 1.5 sacks, while Dunlap had 2 sacks and deflected 2 passes.
The Bengals' offense has scored between 16 and 23 points in all their games. They've been a tick off. Andy Dalton has been pretty good and in two games has made massive connections with AJ Green. On Thursday, Green had 10 receptions for 173 yards. The run game has been hit-and-miss after they had a big 1-2 punch with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill last season. They've been averaging a pedestrian 3.1 yards per run this season. Bernard hasn't really gone off yet. And despite being close to 500 yards receiving already, Green has just two touchdowns. That's not too unusual perhaps, as the Bengals have been going to the playoffs every year with a defense-heavy team. Still, the offense can be a little on the sluggish side at times. It was like their 22-point total against the Dolphins was the least amount of points they could have generated in those conditions.
This is an interesting time for The Bengals. It seems like there's a natural turnover in this league even when it defies logic. No team gets to go to the playoffs every year. It's almost like there's more of a gravitational force this season for the Bengals trying to pull them back to the pack. Somehow, it seems like they're going to have to grind more this season to make big things happen. That could be premature through four games, but it seems like they're fighting off a case of mediocrity that's trying to set in. That wasn't evident so much on Thursday and maybe they start developing some consistency now and moving forward.
The Cowboys didn't have an easy time of it on Sunday against a plucky home Niners bunch. Still, they got their third straight win and cover with a 24-17 win. Rookie back Ezekiel Elliott continues to make an impression and has 278 yards on the ground in his last two games, looking like he's adjusting fully to NFL speed. Prescott was again very good, going 23-for-32 with 245 yards and a pair of TD throws, with Brice Butler and Terrance Williams each catching one. Cole Beasley and Jason Witten were also productive, as they wait for Dez Bryant to return from a knee injury, in addition to what might be a growing attitude problem according to recent reports. The fact that they're 3-1 without Romo and almost without Bryant this season speaks well about this team and has probably given them an extra boost of confidence. In addition, they were missing two offensive linemen. T La'el Collins will be out for a while, though Tyron Smith should be back this week. But a lot of players are chipping in and not making mistakes, which really helps the injury situation seem less-daunting.
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Also chipping in this season has been a Dallas defense that looks a lot better. After giving up 20 and 23 points in their first two games, their last two opponents both scored 17 points, giving the offense some room with which to work. This side of the ball has also experienced their share of personnel issues and have remained resilient. Their line is hardly the unit they envisioned. With the way the Bengals' offense has looked in recent weeks, the Cowboys' defense hopes to have another good game on Sunday.
This is a tricky spot for Dallas. Surely, they're content with the 3-1 Romo-less start following a season where they were lost at sea without their star QB. They wouldn't admit it, but surely they lack the mindset that the Bengals must be feeling right now as perennial contenders off to a slow start and eager to get back to above .500, a position they have enjoyed for years. The Cincinnati defense should be a big factor and perhaps we see a less-effervescent Dallas offense this week. I'm taking the Bengals.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Cincinnati Bengals in a pick 'em. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Bengals vs. Cowboys game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!