The Dallas Cowboys news cycle this week has been solely focused on Dak Prescott’s thumb injury and the impact it will have on the 2022 season. But it’s time to bring the focus back to the Cowboys’ Week 2 matchup against the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals are coming off a sloppy overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, so Cincinnati will be extra hungry to leave AT&T Stadium with a win on Sunday.
Here are three big things to watch for in the game:
Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals
- Kickoff time: Sunday, Sept. 19 at 3:25 p.m.
- How to watch: CBS
- How to stream: CBS Sports app
- Spread: Cowboys +8
- Over/under total: 42.5
How will the offense perform?
Cooper Rush will take over QB1 duties in Prescott’s absence. Rush has been in the NFL since 2017, but has only started one game in his career. That start came in Week 7 last season, and Rush performed well in a 20-16 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Rush threw for 325 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
One thing Dallas’ offense will need to emphasize against Cincinnati is getting Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard more involved. The duo combined for 60 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
This may not be an easy task as the Bengals allowed just 75 rushing yards to the Steelers in Week 1. Wide receiver Chase Claypool led Pittsburgh with 36 rushing yards and running back Najee Harris had only 23 yards on the ground.
While it may be tough establishing the run against the Bengals, we saw what happened against the Buccaneers in Week 1 when the Cowboys’ offense was pass-heavy. Prescott and Rush combined for 173 yards through the air.
If the Cowboys want to hold a 1-1 record after Sunday’s game, it will need to be more effective rushing the ball.
Can the defense force turnovers?
The Cowboys forced just one turnover in Week 1 when Donovan Wilson intercepted a pass from Tom Brady. But creating more possessions for the offense will be pivotal against the Bengals, especially if it gives Rush good starting field position.
The Bengals offense was rather careless with the football in Week 1. QB Joe Burrow threw four interceptions and fumbled twice against the Steelers. This was due to poor decision-making from Burrow along with poor performances from Cincinnati’s offensive linemen.
The Cowboys’ defense recorded only two sacks against the Buccaneers, both from Micah Parsons. While Trevon Diggs didn’t have any interceptions, he showed much improvement in pass coverage compared to his performances last season.
The Cowboys will need to do a better job rushing the passer in Week 2, and the defensive backs should be looking to jump routes and force turnovers if Dallas wants to come out on top.
Will Jason Peters be available?
Jason Peters sat against the Buccaneers as he continues acclimating himself to the Cowboys’ offense. There’s been no word on Peters’ availability against the Bengals, but if he can play it would be a welcomed sign across the offensive line.
Left guard Connor McGovern left the game with an ankle injury in Week 1, and he’s been ruled out against the Bengals. If Peters can play Sunday, rookie Tyler Smith could slide back to LG while Peters takes over at left tackle.
The Cowboys didn’t do a great job at protecting the QB in Week 1. Both Prescott and Rush were sacked twice in the loss. Giving Rush more time in the pocket will be key to a Cowboys victory in Week 2.