Cowboys vs. Bengals 2012 game preview: Cincinnati hosts Dallas with postseason implications

US PRESSWIRE

There could be plenty of playoff possibilities hinging on Sunday's contest between the Bengals and Cowboys in Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon.

With both teams on the outside of their respective conference playoff standings and looking in, the streaking Cincinnati Bengals host the resilient Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 Sunday afternoon.

Winners of four in a row, the Bengals have defeated the other two opponents from the NFC East division that they have faced this season in the Washington Redskins and New York Giants. At 7-5, Cincinnati sits in seventh place in the AFC, tied record-wise with the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom the Bengals lost to in Week 7. Dallas, on the other hand, at 6-6, is a game back of the sixth-place Seattle Seahawks and tied in the hunt with the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings.

Meet the Cincinnati Bengals

Both sides of the ball have been soaring for the Bengals over the past four weeks. Offensively, the unit has put up 31, 28, 34 and 20 points, respectively, while the defense has allowed only 13 (twice), 10 and six over that span. The Bengals rank in the top 15 in the league in passing (241.8) and rushing (115.1) yards per game, as well as passing (221.1) and rushing (110.3) yards allowed.

Quarterback Andy Dalton is fifth in the NFL with 24 touchdown passes, as he has thrown for 2,980 yards while completing 63 percent of his throws with 13 interceptions.

Meet the Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys rebounded from a loss on Thanksgiving Day to the Washington Redskins with a 38-33 win over their division rival Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. After the Bengals, Dallas's road doesn't get much easier as meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and a rematch with the Redskins remain on their schedule.

Quarterback Tony Romo leads the league's second-best passing offense (averaging 296.7 yards per game), as he has thrown for 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with 3,660 passing yards, which is the third-highest total in the NFL this season.

Local Takes: Bengals

Josh Kirkendall from Cincy Jungle says the Bengals' offense has improved thanks to Trevor Robinson taking over at center:

"During the team's current four-game winning streak, they've improved their points per game average by 1.2 points and their third down conversions by six percent. Instead of a depressing 3.8 yard/rush average during the first eight games, Cincinnati's rushing offense has averaged averaging 4.7 yards/rush and 153.3 yards rushing against the Giants, Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers combined. Andy Dalton's drops-per-sack ratio has nearly doubled to 26.6."

Local Takes: Cowboys

Archie Barberio from Blogging the Boys says Tony Romo played one of his better games of the year last Sunday against the Eagles:

"This was easily one of Romo's best games of the season. He went 10 for 10 in the second half, completing all of his pass attempts and threw for three touchdowns. Tony Romo is now the all-time franchise leader with 168 touchdown passes. With so many teams in the NFL looking for a quarterback, it's probably time we take a moment and appreciate how good Romo has been in Dallas over his career."

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Cincy Jungle and Blogging the Boys, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@CincyJungle

@BloggingTheBoys

@JayMorrisonCMG - Jay Morrison, Bengals beat writer for Cox Media Group.

@CowboysNation1 - Rafael Vela, writer for Cowboys Nation.

Prediction

From the Week 14 picks:

The Cowboys have new life in the playoff picture now that they stand tied with the Redskins in second place in the NFC East, and one game behind the Giants for first place. Unfortunately, they can't run the ball and they would need to do that to keep the Bengals defense from killing Tony Romo. Cincinnati is No. 1 in the league in sacks. They're rushing the ball well over their four-game winning streak and they're protecting Andy Dalton. This one goes to the Bengals.

The pick: 24-14, Bengals.

Odds

Cincinnati opened this week as two-point favorites at home, according to OddsShark, but the line has since moved, currently favoring the Bengals by three points over Dallas. The over/under point total for the game began the week at 45½, and currently remains there.

Next Week

The Bengals don't have much preparation time before Week 15, as they will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles Thursday night. The Cowboys, meanwhile, will host another AFC North division team, the Steelers, win Dallas for week 15.

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