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5 keys to the Bengals winning vs. Cowboys

The Bengals can win on Sunday if they do accomplish these keys.

New York Giants v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys have both had disappointing seasons, the nadir of each being the season-ending injuries suffered by their respective quarterbacks.

Each is at a crossroads, as a relatively new coaching staff tries to move the franchise in a new direction. Will the team buy in? That’s what this game is really about, belief. Which team is committed to what they are doing and is willing to do what it takes to win the game?

The Bengals have a good chance of pulling off the win, if they can do these five things.

Pound the Rock

The Bengals have struggled to run the ball this year, but not as badly as the Cowboys have struggled to stop the run.

The worst rushing defense the Bengals have faced all season is the Jacksonville Jaguars who have given up 136.9 yards per game on the ground this season, ranking 30th in the league. In that game, the Bengals ran for a season-high 205 yards.

Dallas has given up 167.8 yards per game rushing putting them in the cellar of NFL rankings in that category by a wide margin.

The Bengals are not the same team they were when they played the Jaguars. They will have rookie Hakeem Adeniji at left tackle and it’s likely that Quinton Spain and Xavier Su’a-Filo will both be at guard this time around.

They head into the weekend without Joe Mixon at running back once again. Giovani Bernard may not be the home run hitter that Mixon is, but he hits the hole and gets downhill fast.

Don’t Beat Yourself

Running the football effectively will help them stay out of the long-yardage situations they faced all too often last week. This hopefully means fewer 3rd Downs, and that the 3rd Downs they do have will be shorter and easier to convert.

The offense also has to avoid penalties, particularly false starts and holding calls which have hurt them this season. They also need to avoid sacks on early downs, because for this team sacks on early downs result in sacks on 3rd Down.

The offense must make the most of their opportunities. They cannot turn the ball over or come up empty on Red Zone appearances.

RAC up Yards

The Bengals scored in the first half last week when Tyler Boyd took a short pass and turned it into a 72-yard touchdown. Tight end Drew Sample threw a great block that played no small part in making that happen.

The receivers need to help Brandon Allen generate plays in the pass game by picking up yards after the catch.

Defense Step up

The Bengals may like their chances of running the football on this Cowboys’ defense, but Dallas’s offense feels the same way about the Cincinnati defense.

The Bengals need to stop the run and force Andy Dalton to drop back and pass. The Cowboys have had a number of injuries on their offensive line. This needs to be a big week, where Carl Lawson gets reacquainted with his old friend, Andy.

The Bengals coverage should be improved with the return of Darius Phillips. This will also help their chances of getting a turnover and the ever-elusive, but much-needed defensive score.

Special Teams Be the X-Factor

The Bengals’ special teams has been excellent this season. They need to step up again this week to help the Bengals win the field position game and get them into scoring range.

The Bengals have a real chance this week. First and foremost, they must be able to run the ball and put points on the board. If they can do that, the defense should be able to do enough to secure the win.