Bengals/'Boys Preview & Prediction

Dallas leads 5-4 in a series which has been kind to the home team. The Bengals are 3-1 against Dallas in Cincinnati, including the clubs' most recent meeting in 2004, but the Cowboys lead 4-1 on their own turf.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET

GAMEDATE: 10/05/08

SURFACE: Sportfield Realgrass

TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)

SERIES: 10th meeting. Dallas leads 5-4 in a series which has been kind to the home team. The Bengals are 3-1 against Dallas in Cincinnati, including the clubs' most recent meeting in 2004, but the Cowboys lead 4-1 on their own turf. The only Bengals win in Dallas was a 38-24 decision by the 1988 Cincinnati team that went on to Super Bowl XXIII. The winning team has scored more than 30 points in six of the nine Bengals-Cowboys games.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bengals won't know until late in the week, or possible hours before game time, whether they'll have the services of QB Carson Palmer. His availability will dictate Cincinnati's approach. If Palmer is under center, the Bengals can attempt to attack a Cowboys secondary that has be up and down. If not, RB Chris Perry will see a lot more work as backup QB Ryan Fitzgerald is charged with a game plan geared more toward controlling the clock. ... After RB Marion Barber got just eight carries in last weekend's loss to Washington, Dallas will get back to its proven formula. That's establishing Barber, bringing eight defenders into the box and creating one-one-one matchups outside. The Bengals rank fourth in the league against the pass, but that's a misleading stat for a winless team that has faced four of the top 10 lowest-ranked passing attacks in the league.

KEY INJURIES: Bengals: Palmer (elbow) could be a game-time decision CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle) could return after missing two games. Cowboys: SS Pat Watkins (stinger) is starting in place of Roy Williams (broken forearm) and could be replaced by Courtney Brown; NG Tank Johnson (ankle) should play.

FAST FACTS: Bengals WR Chris Henry's suspension was lifted this week and he could be activated in time for the game. ... Cowboys WR Terrell Owens needs one reception to be the eighth player in NFL history to reach 900. In his 178th game, he would be the third-quickest to the mark.

BENGALS PERSONNEL NEWS: SS Dexter Jackson (thumb) is out for Dallas. Chindeum Ndukwe will make his fourth consecutive start.

--LB Dhani Jones (foot), who did not practice Wednesday, improved to limited participation Thursday. He is the Bengals' leading tackler.

--CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle), who did not practice Wednesday, improved to limited participation Thursday. He is expected to play Sunday at Dallas. He has missed the previous two games.

--LB Corey Mays (ankle), who did not practice Wednesday, did not practice Thursday.

--RB Kenny Watson (hamstring), who did not practice Wednesday, did not practice Thursday either. His injury forced the Bengals to sign Cedric Benson to a one-year contract Tuesday.

--QB Carson Palmer (right throwing elbow), who was limited in practice Wednesday, was limited again Thursday. He worked in run game drills and did what coach Marvin Lewis said was "rehab throwing" on the side. His status remains unknown for the Cowboys.

--DT Domata Peko (hand), who was limited in practice Wednesday, was limited again Thursday.

--RB Chris Perry (hamstring), who was limited in practice Wednesday, improved Thursday to full participation Thursday.

'BOYS PERSONNEL NOTES: LB Zach Thomas is on pace for another 100-tackle season. He leads the Cowboys with 47 tackles through four games.

--SS Keith Davis could get the start in place of Pat Watkins on Sunday. The Cowboys are planning to hold Watkins out because of a neck stinger. Davis would play on first and second down with Courtney Brown replacing him on passing downs.

--C Andre Gurode missed practice Thursday because of a slightly sprained ankle. The Cowboys are going to reevaluate him Friday and Saturday before making a decision on Sunday's game. If he can't go, Cory Proctor will start at center with Montrae Holland going at left guard.

--NT Tank Johnson (ankle) returned to practice on Thursday and should be ready to play against the Bengals.

INSIDE THE BENGALS CAMP: On his first day with the Cincinnati Bengals, running back Cedric Benson was assigned No. 32, his old number in Chicago and the jersey most recently worn with the Bengals by Rudi Johnson.

"Most importantly, it's good to be back in some pads, back on a team, around a great group of guys, very accepting to me, and I'm just thankful for the opportunity," Benson said.

He was arrested in May on charges of drunken boating and resisting arrest, and in June was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

"Just, it's a humbling experience," he said when asked to describe his legal issues. "It keeps you grounded. It will bring your feet back to the ground if your feet weren't grounded. Just kind of bring you home, (an) opportunity to look in the mirror, re-evaluate yourself and change yourself for the better.

"I just had to make a better decision, a few better decisions."

The Bears released him June 9, two days after his second arrest.

"I really don't know," he said when asked to describe his career in Chicago. "First two seasons were a little rocky. Third season didn't go quite as well as we wanted it to as a team. Then I had the couple of situations off the field, and they made a decision."

Benson was cleared of all charges Sept. 25.

"It probably helped a lot," he said of the exoneration. "I don't know if it was the deciding factor. I think when push really came to shove, some team would make a move. I'm sure it eased a lot of teams' minds."

Benson was one of several running backs working out Tuesday -- players' off day -- for Bengals coaches and scouts.

"Basically, just the fact they were willing to give me an opportunity said a lot about them as an organization, just the opportunity was most what I liked," Benson said. "I'll have a few more things I'll like by the end of the week."

Benson played in 35 games with 12 starts for the Bears from 2005-07, rushing for 1,593 yards on 420 carries (3.8-yard average) with 10 touchdowns. He also had 26 receptions for 180 yards.

"I definitely bring, you know, just come out and run the rock, basically, get first downs, help the offense score touchdowns," he said. "Once (he) gets the scheme and all the plays down things will be real smooth."

INSIDE THE DALLAS CAMP: The Cowboys defenders got the message loud and clear from Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, who said this was going to be the game they get a slump-busting win.

He said the 0-4 Bengals are going to do everything they can to get a win against the Cowboys and he is looking to have a breakout game.

Therefore, cornerback Pacman Jones and Anthony Henry are going to have to pay. "I don't have a choice," Johnson said. "I don't have a choice. Somebody tell Pacman or Adam or whatever the hell he wants to be called. He is going to get it. Anthony Henry, he's going to get it."

"When Sunday gets here, I'll be ready," Jones said. "I expect him to have the same horrible game (he's had) the first four weeks. He hasn't done nothing so far, so hopefully we can keep it like that."

Johnson has 11 catches for 116 yards and one touchdown through four games.

PREDICTION: Cowboys 34-20


CowboysHQ Top Stories