The first road game for the Cincinnati Bengals also features their first NFC opponent in the Dallas Cowboys. Dak Prescott’s injury and subsequent absence might headline the matchup, but the Cowboys still roster high-end talent who can greatly impact Sunday’s game.
These are the top matchups we’re most excited to watch on Sunday.
Ja’Marr Chase vs. Trevon Diggs
If you don’t recognize the lead art, that’s LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase successfully scoring against Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs back in 2019. That was one of Chase’s six receptions and 33 of his 140 yards during that win. He battled through Diggs’ physical play. Now he’ll take him on again to get the Bengals back to .500. The question is, how many reps will get to see?
the great @timeforjeffrey joined @BengalsOBI to update us on the current state of the cowboys, including his thoughts on chase vs. diggs vol. 2— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) September 16, 2022
watch: https://t.co/rmI4DnR7TQ pic.twitter.com/Wm8rNMCj9y
As Cowboys analyst Jeff Cavanaugh explained on The Orange and Black Insider, Diggs doesn’t normally follow receivers and stays at right cornerback, whereas Chase is now being moved all over the formation. It’s one of the evolutions to his tool belt as a complete receiver, but it may limit the number of times he squares up against Diggs. Even when he’s on the outside, he’s usually splitting time between the left and right sides of the formation. The select snaps the two are across from each-other will be must-see entertainment.
Jonah Williams vs. Micah Parsons
Simply put, the Cowboys have the advantage here. Parsons is already one of the best edge rushers in the entire league. That’s not just because of the insane Week 1 he had last Sunday. He proved worthy during his first year in the league last season on his way to winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Parsons is a plain beast, no matter if he’s blitzing as a linebacker or an edge.
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The intrigue involves how well Williams can bounce back from last week. Alex Highsmith gave him the business for most of last Sunday as the Steelers’ edge finished with three sacks and six total pressures. Williams has shown to be an imperfect left tackle now with two years of playing experience behind him, but he’s certainly capable of protecting the quarterback better. Limiting Parsons to a mild performance would be a win for Cincinnati.
D.J. Reader vs. Zack Martin
These are two of the best at their respective positions, and they might actually be the best. Reader is, in every sense of the word, an elite run defender. Combo blocks are the only chance opposing offensive lines have to get Reader out of the desired gap, and as the Steelers saw last week, even that is a hopeless endeavor at times. And while he’s not always on the field for obvious passing situations, Reader can still win a one-on-one and breach the pocket better than most who rush the A-gap.
It’ll take someone of Reader’s caliber to neutralize what Martin can do as an individual blocker. The perennial All-Pro right guard has been the gold standard at the position for the better part of now nine seasons. He combines near perfect technique with upper-tier play strength despite not being the most physically imposing at his position. Martin gets the job done time and time again and makes it look easy. Watch these two go at it when Reader’s across from him.
Chidobe Awuzie vs. CeeDee Lamb
La’el Collins is just one former Cowboy making his return to AT&T Stadium. Awuzie was Dallas’ second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and started 42 games during his four years with the star on his helmet. His fourth and final season was Lamb’s first, so the two have history as teammates and friendly opponents in practice.
The Bengals’ version of Awuzie is what the Cowboys presumably envisioned when they drafted him five years ago. He’s now the cornerback who can matchup one-on-one with the opposition’s No. 1 option on the boundary and not just keep up, but win the routes he’s defending. Lamb, who wins in a multitude of ways, is one of the better young receivers Awuzie will face on the road this entire year.