The Bengals are nearing the end of the hardest part of their schedule. Is locking down Ezekiel Elliott the key to bringing home a win from Dallas?
After last week’s comforting win that ensured the season wasn’t over for Bengals fans, Cincinnati needs another win at Dallas to prove they’re still a contender. The Orange and Black are two and two at the quarter-pole, and a loss to Dallas would make a win against a Tom Brady-fueled Patriots a foreboding necessity.
What will it take to beat the ‘Boys?
Contain Dak Prescott
The Bengals are notoriously poor at stopping mobile quarterbacks. Even EJ Manuel, the stiffest of the so-called “mobile” quarterbacks, was able to rush for over 20 yards and take it to the house on the Bengals last year. While Dak Prescott is no Michael Vick or Russell Wilson, he can move. And, counterintuitively, that makes the Bengals vaunted pass rush a weakness.
Anyone that saw the TNF game two weeks ago watched no-name quarterback Jacoby Brissett annihilate a Texans team that was supposed to have the best pass rush in the league. The pass rush was too effective for its own good. Brissett was repeatedly flushed out of the pocket, only to find plenty of green grass ahead of him. The Bengals must stay in their pass-rush lanes and keep containment.
A Balanced Offense
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Where would the Bengals franchise be without AJ Green? This season alone, he’s had two game performances of legendary dominance. Coincidently, these are the Bengals’ only two wins. With the running game in shambles and Tyler Eifert struggling to get healthy, Green has been the lifeblood of this Bengals team.
There were glimmers of hope for the running game on the first drive of week three against a stout Denver defense, but Jeremy Hill has yet to consistently show he’s the running back everyone thought he could be. Jeremy Hill and AJ Green sharing the spotlight is the key to offensive success,
Ezekiel Elliott must be stopped
The top rusher in the NFL through four weeks as a rookie, Ezekiel Elliott is special. Running backs don’t get drafted at number four overall for nothing. He and Dak Prescott look to be the future of the Cowboys’ franchise, and a major key for the Bengals will be eliminating the ground attack early.
If the Bengals can render Dallas’s run game powerless early, they’ve all but won. Elliott leads the league in rushing like Trent Richardson did back in 2012 – volume of carries. Despite averaging less than 4.0 YPC in both of his first two games, even when he’s struggling, the Cowboys stubbornly continued ride him. If he’s made a non-factor, Dallas’s offense will stagnate as they’re forced to punt for repeatedly running ineffectively on downs one and two.
Still rolling with the momentum of their win from last week, Marvin Lewis’s gang has an important but winnable matchup on their hands. Watch them take on the Cowboys in the Dome at Dallas on Sunday at 4:15 ET.