Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys +1 (-105) o45.0 (-110)
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
October 9, 2016, 1:25PM PDT
Our primary (power rankings) handicapping factors not only anticipate a home cover, but give Dallas a slight edge in collecting the outright win when the Cowboys host the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday afternoon. Our computer simulation work likewise points to a median outcome of Dallas -1. As such we are backing the home dogs. Additionally though, as our computer simulation routines uniformly point to an aggregate score in excess of 45, we are also betting the OVER.
The Cowboys' offense is third in the league (by DVOA) through four weeks of play, and has proven equally proficient in the air and on the ground. Explaining Dallas' improbable success (starting quarterback, Tony Romo, broke a bone in his back during pre-season and is unlikely to return to action before week 8, after all), the new tip of the spear, rookie, Dak Prescott, is ranked as the third best QB in the NFL by DYAR--fourth by DVOA and QB Rating. Further, the Cowboys' rookie RB, Ezekiel Elliott, is the seventh best in the league, by DYAR, at his position.
The Bengals too sport an above average offense, but only slightly. Cincinnati's Andy Dalton ranks sixth by DYAR; accordingly, the Bengals' passing game is seventh overall. However, Cincy's ground game is 27th so far this season, and a decided drag on offensive efficiency. Consistent with this backdrop, our sim work calls for Cincinnati's offense to come primarily through the air Sunday. We think Dalton will find A.J. Green and the Bengals receivers for a couple of TD receptions. And while we see scope for Bengals' RB, Jeremy Hill, to have a successful out (i.e. 80 rushing yards and a touchdown), we note that Dallas' defense versus the run is above average by DVOA, suggesting yards on the ground might be limited for a poor Bengal's running team.
On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati boasts a top-ten defense by DVOA, against both the pass and the run. However, the Bengals dropped the two games this season where they faced elite offenses. In losing efforts, Cincy allowed 24 points to the Steelers in week 2 and 29 to the Broncos the following out. Along the same lines, we expect Cincinnati to yield somewhere around Dallas' average productivity (25 points per game) Sunday. Look for Ezekiel Elliott and company to notch a couple of rushing TDs to compliment a singular passing TD from Dak Prescott.
In the end, we forecast a tightly contested game that ends something like 24-23, Cowboys. As such, back America's Team at home and the OVER.