Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals Matchup Preview (12/13/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
Neither of these teams’ seasons has gone the way they would have hoped, but the Cowboys, in particular, have been a major disappointment. At 3-9, Dallas still isn’t out of the hunt for the playoffs in a putrid NFC East – the Giants and Washington sit atop the division at 5-7. However, the Cowboys have to turn things around in a hurry to get out of the woods. The Bengals, meanwhile, weren’t a very competitive team to start the season, but injuries all over the place have completely derailed things. In particular, a season-ending ACL and MCL injury to rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has cast a dark shadow on this season. At 2-9-1 and in the cellar of the AFC North, the Bengals have little left to play for outside of draft positioning. For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals Matchup Page.
Date: Sunday, December 13th, 2020
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio
TV Coverage: FOX
Cowboys vs. Bengals Live Stream
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Dallas Cowboys: RB Ezekiel Elliott (calf) Q, CB Anthony Brown (ribs) Q, S Donovan Wilson (groin) Q, P Chris Jones (abdomen) IR eligible to return, C Tyler Biadasz (hamstring) IR eligible to return, CB Chidobe Awuzie (COVID-19) IR, OT La’el Collins (hip) IR, OT Cameron Erving (knee) IR, OG Zack Martin (calf) IR, OT Tyron Smith (neck) IR, QB Dak Prescott (ankle) IR
Cincinnati Bengals: CB Mackensie Alexander (knee) Q, WR Tee Higgins (hamstring) Q, DT D.J. Reader (quadriceps) IR eligible to return, CB Trae Waynes (pectoral) IR eligible to return, RB Joe Mixon (foot) IR, OT Jonah Williams (knee) IR, QB Joe Burrow (ACL + MCL) IR
Dallas Cowboys Analysis
The Cowboys started the year slow, but after Dak Prescott’s gruesome, things really went off the rails for this offense. Andy Dalton has played alright in his five starts as he’s thrown for 1,155 yards and 7 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. That’s a 16-game pace of 3,700 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. His passer rating of 79.5 is among the worst in the NFL, however, and among full-time starters is only better than Cam Newton, Daniel Jones, Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold, and Drew Lock. However, the Bengals have been very susceptible against the pass this season so that Dalton could be in for a strong game.
As Dallas’s offense has stalled out, as has Ezekiel Elliott, who has run for a paltry 3.9 YPC this year, the worst mark of his career by far. He still ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing with 784 yards, but he’s on pace to tie his career-low in rushing touchdowns as he has just 5 so far. Zeke has been very involved in the passing game with 43 catches for 274 yards and 2 scores through the air, but the lack of offensive line quality in front of him has hampered his ability to be efficient. Tony Pollard has run for 4.7 YPC and provided a nice change-of-pace option with 394 yards from scrimmage on 86 total touches.
The biggest issue for the Cowboys this season has been their poor offensive line play. Veteran center Joe Looney is the only remaining player from the team’s starting five on the offensive line heading into the season as Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Cameron Erving have all hit the Injured Reserve. As a result, Dallas quarterbacks have been sacked 2.7 times per game, the ninth-most in the NFL. Andy Dalton only took one sack against the Ravens last week, and the Bengals don’t exactly have an imposing pass rush. However, the offensive line is still a major concern, especially regarding Elliott’s rushing efficiency.
It may not feel like it most of the time as the team hasn’t produced a ton through the air, but the Cowboys do feature one of the most talented wide receiver trios in the NFL in Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. Cooper has 76 catches for 891 yards and 4 touchdowns through 12 games, and he racked up 5 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens last week. Gallup was the star of the show in that game as he produced 7 catches for 86 yards and a score vs. Baltimore, while Lamb finished with 6 catches for 46 yards. This trio of players is going to help Dallas turn into one of the most formidable passing offenses in the NFL next season, but that won’t happen this week with Andy Dalton under center behind a patchwork offensive line.
Defensively, the Cowboys have been perhaps the worst team in the NFL. They’re allowing 32.8 points per game, more than any other team and over 3 points more per game than the Lions, who allow the second-most points. Dallas has been destroyed on the ground as they’re allowing 167.8 rushing yards per game, the most in the NFL. They have constantly struggled to get off the field with the 3rd-worst third-down football rate (49.4%). DeMarcus Lawrence has been the team’s only consistently above-average defensive player this year, and there aren’t many positive takeaways for this team on that side of the ball.
Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart
Cincinnati Bengals Analysis
Like the Cowboys, the Bengals lost their starting quarterback in Joe Burrow for the remainder of the season. Brandon Allen, a former 6th-round pick by the Jaguars who started three games for the Broncos last season, has been filling in. He has performed rather poorly, though, as he’s completed just 58.3% of his passes for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns with 2 interceptions in his two starts. He completed just 46.4% of his passes in three starts with the Broncos last year, so the lack of productivity isn’t surprising. His passer rating of 72.2 would be the third-worst in the NFL if he qualified among all starters.
Earlier in the week, it looked like Joe Mixon may be able to make his return to the field this week for the first time since Week 6. With just 428 yards on 119 carries (3.6 YPC) and 3 touchdowns, he hadn’t been very efficient earlier in the year anyway – that’s a 16-game pace of 317 carries for 1,140 yards and 8 touchdowns. However, Cincy will elect to keep Mixon on Injured Reserve with his foot injury, and I would be surprised to see him back out there this season. Giovani Bernard has filled in as the starter, but with just 253 yards on 77 carries (3.3 YPC), he hasn’t been very efficient on the ground. He has caught 36 balls for 260 yards and 2 scores, though.
Of course, much like the Cowboys, the Bengals’ lack of rushing productivity isn’t solely the fault of their running backs. Their offensive line has arguably been the worst unit in the NFL. The Bengals are allowing 3.7 sacks per game, the second-most in the NFL, and the lack of rushing production falls on poor blocking upfront. Second-year offensive tackle Jonah Williams has been in and out of the lineup with injuries and offensive guard Xavier Su’a-Filo. To preserve Burrow’s long-term health and maximize the efficiency of this offense, Cincy has to reinvest upfront in a big way this offseason.
Much like Dallas, Cincinnati’s calling card has been some impressive receiving talent. Rookie Tee Higgins has shown out with 53 catches for 729 yards and 5 touchdowns through 12 games – that’s a 16-game pace of 70 catches for 972 yards and 7 touchdowns, and that’s with a relative lack of involvement to start the season. He has a very bright future in Cincy as Burrow’s top downfield target. Of course, slot receiver Tyler Boyd has been impressive as well. While he only had one catch against the Dolphins last week, he took it 72 yards to the house for Cincy’s only touchdown of the day. The switch at quarterback has hurt his productivity, but he’s still on pace for over 1,000 receiving yards this season for the third-straight year. The duo of Higgins and Boyd will help Burrow produce some more impressive numbers next season.
The Cowboys have arguably been the worst defensive team in football, but the Bengals give them a real run for their money as they’re allowing 391.5 yards per game (seventh-most) and 25.7 points per game (13th-most). To their credit, Cincy does feature a handful of legitimate long-term building blocks on the defensive side of the ball. William Jackson has been a lockdown cornerback this season, while Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell have been among the best safety duos in football. With D.J. Reader out, the run defense has faltered recently, but the team could get their nose tackle back this week to join Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard on an underrated defensive line. The Bengals still have some work to do before they’re close to an above-average defense, but they’re not as far away as you might think.
Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart
Spread: Cowboys -3, Bengals +3
Moneyline: Cowboys -170, Bengals +150
Over/Under: 42.5 points
Most bettors have been hitting the Cowboys in this matchup, and it makes sense as to why. In a revenge game, Andy Dalton has much more firepower at his disposal than Brandon Allen, and Dallas has much more on the line in this game. However, sharps have been more on the Bengals side. The Cowboys have a -13 turnover rate, the second-worst in the NFL, and their special teams have been poor. Still, with D.J. Reader, Mackensie Alexander, and Trae Waynes still injured on the Cincy defense, I expect the Cowboys to put up enough points to win this game. 42.5 points is a low over-under for two of the worst defenses in football, and I expect the total to push over. I would lean towards the Cowboys to win by more than 3 points, but we’ve been burned by Dallas all year, so I’d rather tease their line down on the spread and include them in a parlay of some sort. The over is the play here.
My predictions: Cowboys win 26-21, Cowboys cover, over 42.5 points
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Daily Fantasy Picks
With one of the lowest over-under totals on the week, this may not be an ideal game to target for DFS lineups. Giovani Bernard could exploit a Cowboys’ defense that gives up the most rushing yards per game by a sizable margin, so he’s someone to consider. Give Bernard a boost in DraftKings due to his added PPR value. Ezekiel Elliott is also an interesting name as a guy who’s ownership remains low due to his inconsistency and ineffectiveness. Still, I expect him to produce in this game against a weak run defense in Cincy. Andy Dalton is a lower-priced quarterback worth a look in a revenge game opportunity. I believe one of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, or Michael Gallup will provide value in this game. I’m not sold on anyone from Cincinnati’s passing attack, however.