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Cowboys vs. Bengals prediction: Fade Dallas offense behind backup Cooper Rush

Bet on Cincinnati to bounce back against Dallas after a fluky Week 1 loss marred by five turnovers.

Cooper Rush of the Dallas Cowboys passes against the Denver Broncos during a preseason game at Empower Field At Mile High on August 13, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
Cooper Rush of the Dallas Cowboys passes against the Denver Broncos during a preseason game at Empower Field At Mile High on August 13, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)Read moreJamie Schwaberow / Getty Images

As if last week’s season-opening loss wasn’t concerning enough for the Cowboys, star quarterback Dak Prescott (thumb) left that game in the final minutes and will miss several weeks, starting with Sunday’s clash with the reigning AFC champions.

The Bengals are laying over a touchdown on the road after one of the most bizarre losses you’ll ever see in Week 1. They should face a much easier test in Week 2 against fill-in quarterback Cooper Rush, who’s making just his second career start.

Here’s how we’re betting Sunday’s contest, which kicks off at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS.

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Cowboys vs. Bengals Pick

  1. Bengals -7.5 (-105 BetMGM)

Cowboys vs. Bengals Prediction: The Analysis

It’s easy to dismiss last year’s conference champs after a sloppy Week 1 loss in which they turned it over five times and seemingly found every way they could to give that game away. This team is better than that, though, and the proof is in the box score.

Cincinnati out-gained the Steelers by 165 yards and 19 first downs, something just six teams pulled off in the entire 2021 season. Unsurprisingly, those six teams all won by an average of 23.2 points, with just one game decided by fewer than three scores. In fact, the Bengals ranked fourth in yards (432) and second in first downs (32) among all Week 1 teams and held the Steelers to bottom-six marks in both stats.

All of that was obscured by the team’s five turnovers and two critical special teams gaffes, both courtesy of the team’s emergency long snapper. The Bengals also came inches away from a pair of toe-tapping touchdowns in the final minutes that could have put the game on ice. Instead, Joe Burrow (338 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT) finished the contest with the worst passer rating (61.7) of his young career.

It’s fair to wonder whether Burrow was simply rusty after missing part of training camp and playing sparingly in the preseason. His five turnovers were his most in 26 career starts and marked just the seventh time he turned it over multiple times, all of which resulted in losses. Following those previous six times, the former No. 1 pick averaged 250 passing yards with a combined 11:3 TD-to-INT ratio, and Cincinnati went 4-2 with four double-digit wins.

» READ MORE: With Steelers, Patriots injuries on offense, bet on a low-scoring affair in Pittsburgh

Speaking of rusty, this Cowboys offense looked completely disjointed in last week’s season opener, and that was before losing Prescott late in the fourth quarter. Will the inexperienced Rush fare any better? He’ll still be surrounded by a depleted receiving corps that hauled in just 22 of 43 passes (51.2%) in Week 1 and an offensive line that continues to battle injuries.

This feels like a trap game at a glance, and maybe it is. But it’s hard to watch what Dallas looked like a week ago and expect this one to be close, especially against a Bengals squad hungry to prove that last week’s loss was a fluke. Statistically, it sure looked like one, and I’d bet on Burrow and co. coming back with a vengeance on Sunday.

Cowboys vs. Bengals Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Bengals -7.5 (-105), moneyline -350

  2. Cowboys +7.5 (-115), moneyline +260

  3. O/U 41.5 (-110)

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.