Bengals cornerbacks Terence Newman and Adam Jones both played for Dallas before signing with Cincinnati. And Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer spent 13 years as an assistant coach with the Cowboys.
“No different than San Diego, Philadelphia, the Giants or anyone else,” Zimmer said when asked about facing his former team for the second time since coming to Cincinnati in 2008. “I’m not playing (Dallas owner Jerry Jones), I’m playing those guys over there.
“I still have friends there. I have several friends there. People in the training room, front office. Lots of friends.”
Here is an early look at this year’s Cowboys team:
Only Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees have thrown for more yards this season than Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who has completed 324-of-483 passes for 3,660 yards. But while he also is among the league leaders with a 67.1 completion percentage, Romo has thrown 15 interceptions, a number just one shy of being the most in the NFL.
Tight end Jason Witten is Romo’s top target with 88 catches for 818 yards and one touchdown, while wide receiver Dez Bryant is an explosive threat with 71 receptions for 978 yards and eight TDs. Wide receiver Miles Austin also is on pace for a 1,000-yard season with 51 catches for 773 yards and five scores.
The Cowboys rank 30th in rush offense (82.4), but a big reason for that is the fact that starting tailback DeMarco Murray missed six games with an ankle injury. Murray, who averages 4.1 yards per rush, returned to action Sunday and ran for 83 yards and a touchdown against Philadelphia.
Dallas ranks 11th in total defense, allowing 336.7 yards per game, but the Cowboys have surrendered at least 423 yards in three of their last five games.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan employs a 3-4 set that is led by linebackers Demarcus Ware, whose 10.5 sacks rank fourth in the league, and Anthony Spencer (6.5 sacks). Linebacker Bruce Carter was leading the team in tackles before suffering a season-ending elbow injury on Thanksgiving Day against the Redskins.
Punt returner Dwayne Harris averages 15.0 yards per return, which ranks fourth in the league among players with at least 10 attempts.
Dallas leads 6-4, but the Bengals are 3-1 in games played in Cincinnati.