Here’s how I viewed Monday Night’s football game, from a fan perspective.
If the New York Giants won, it would have meant that they would have pulled away a little in a close division, taking away the Dallas Cowboys’ hopes of a playoff shot. I obviously didn’t want that to increase the urgency in their game against Cincinnati.
So I guess I wanted the Giants to win a very close game.
Of course, that didn’t happen. Regardless of what would have favored the Bengals, their main focus now will be to defeat a Cowboys team that is starting to heat up.
Three weeks ago, I said this would be a close game. I’m sticking to that, but perhaps the energy in this game is beginning to shift. Despite the game being in Cincinnati and the Bengals riding a four-game winning streak, Dallas may very well be favored at Paul Brown Stadium this Sunday.
I’m certainly worried.
This game will ultimately come down to a few things.
The defense is going to be huge. Both offenses are giving opposing defensive coaches fits when they have the ball. So the game may very well depend on which defense finds a way to stop the offense on the other side of the football.
The rankings would suggest the Bengals have an edge. The Cowboys’ defense is ranked 11th overall, 17th against the ground game and 10th against the pass attack.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati defense is ranked 11th in both categories and is eighth overall.
Both defenses have been steadily improving as the season has gone by.
That being said, the Bengals blanked the San Diego Chargers in the second half, while the Eagles managed 33 points in a loss to Dallas. That might say something about what to expect, but it’s hard to tell.
The ability to force one or two key turnovers might be the difference in this game.
Another factor will be the running game for the Bengals. If BenJarvus Green-Ellis continues to impress against an average Dallas rush defense, they may have the early edge.
If the Cowboys defense is able to keep him under 90 yards on the game, I think the Cowboys win.
Last but not least will be the quarterbacks’ play in this game.
The tight contest will ultimately shift the way of whichever quarterback is having the better game. Andy Dalton will need to use the deep ball to A.J. Green a lot more than he did against the Chargers. Tony Romo will have to do the opposite: Complete short passes to his receivers to avoid the strong Bengals pass rush.
The first glimpse of this game appears as though it will be a high-scoring affair, and I’ll stick to that glimpse in a prediction.
I think the Bengals will win 30-27 in overtime. Not to get fancy with the overtime; only because I can’t see either offense outmatching the other. I think the mistakes will be minimal, and that this will be a very good football game—especially with so much on the line for both teams.