Bengals vs Cowboys Odds, Picks, Predictions
Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: Cooper Rush.
- The Bengals are favored over the Dak Prescott-less Cowboys this afternoon.
- Both teams are winless entering this game, with Cincinnati losing in overtime last week.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.
Bengals vs. Cowboys Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Entering Week 1, a matchup between one of the league's best offenses from last season and the defending AFC champions would have featured a ton of intrigue and excitement.
Dallas then had a Week 1 uncompetitive loss at home against Tampa Bay and Cincinnati lost at home to Pittsburgh in overtime. The story of the game is now injuries for the Cowboys, who host Cincinnati at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday in Week 2.
Dak Prescott is out injured, joining Tyron Smith as a medium-to-long term absence for the Cowboys offense. Michael Gallup is still rehabbing from his ACL tear and will not play either. Now, the market has soured heavily on Dallas with Cooper Rush at quarterback.
The challenge of betting Week 2 in the NFL is sifting through the one data point we have — Week 1 — and determining what is real, what is an overreaction and where the market has moved too far on a certain team compared to our preseason priors.
This is a classic example. Dallas was -2.5 on the lookahead line and now is a home underdog of more than a touchdown. Is one bad game and losing Prescott really worth that much line movement?
I don't think so.
Bengals vs. Cowboys Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Bengals and Cowboys match up statistically:
Bengals vs. Cowboys DVOA Breakdown
From a matchup point of view, the Dallas defense is going to have to step up with the offensive downgrade with Rush at quarterback. The Cowboys played man-to-man at a top-five rate last season and were excellent against short passing. This unit was first against underneath throws, and that's where Cincinnati's offense likes to live to set up its eventual deep shots.
Most people see the Bengals as a deep-throwing offense, but Joe Burrow finished the 2022 right around league average in average depth of target. They throw underneath plenty — mostly because of mediocre offensive line play — and then eventually set up the deep boundary throws to Ja'Marr Chase, who thrived in 2021 based on those deep boundary plays and excellent YAC ability.
Dallas' defensive aggression should present an opportunity or two for the Bengals to set up an explosive play, but the Cowboys defensive aggression also presents opportunities to create havoc as the underdog of more than a touchdown. It's a high variance approach and given the Bengals offensive line struggles and Burrow's turnover issues in Week 1, don't be surprised if the Cowboys make a game-changing play or two defensively.
The Cowboys finished Week 1 with the sixth-best pass rush win rate in the NFL, while the Cincinnati offensive line was just 20th in pass block win rate. The story of the offseason was that the Bengals made improvements along the offensive line and while that may be true in the long term as we get into November and December, there's reason to be skeptical that the unit will gel immediately.
Throw in Burrow's appendix issue and missing time in training camp and preseason, and it's reasonable to expect the Bengals to be slow starters in 2022.
As for the Dallas offense, there's nothing nice or positive to say about the performance against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay bracketed coverage toward CeeDee Lamb and then blitzed and played tight man coverage behind against the Cowboys' lesser wide receivers.
Prescott still had one of the worst games of his career, and the Bengals defense isn't nearly on the level of the Buccaneers when Tampa is fully healthy. The downgrade from Prescott to Rush isn't nearly as big as the market is suggesting with this line.
Dallas' offensive coordinator Kellen Moore likes to run a lot of isolation routes and throws to the boundary that rely on precision and timing because he normally has an elite processor and precision passer in Prescott. Don't be surprised if the Cowboys offense is a lot different and more creative on Sunday. That was the case when Dallas beat Minnesota with Rush last season.
Any time an NFL line moves nine points from the lookahead the week prior, you should absolutely be skeptical of that.
What do we truly know that's different about either of these two teams? Dallas played one of the best defenses in the NFL and had a bad game, while Cincinnati did exactly the same.
I don't expect the Bengals to turn it over five times again, but let's not pretend that Cincinnati was moving the ball at will. The Bengals had 4.6 yards per play and only cleared 400 yards of offense because they ran 94 plays.
There's a well-documented history of defending Super Bowl losers struggling to begin the following season. Look no further than the last three years, when the Rams, 49ers and Chiefs struggled out of the gates.
The market has absolutely loved Cincinnati, but the Steelers defense made it a point to take away the deep boundary throws to Chase, and I'm sure defensive coordinators will take notice of that.
Even though Rush has only made one career start, he did post a positive but below league average EPA per play in that game.
Like we do so often in the NFL, it's time to hold your nose and bet Dallas catching more than a touchdown at home.
FanDuel Quickslip: Dallas +7.5 | Bet to +7