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Cowboys vs. Bengals: A turning point in the season

After barely surviving a soft November schedule, an injury-ravaged Dallas team travels to Cincinnati in a game with huge playoff implications for both teams.


Despite being only 6-6, the Cowboys are still in the thick of the playoff race in the NFC East, one game behind the 7-5 Giants and tied with the 6-6 Redskins.

On Sunday, they travel across the country to get a taste of life in the AFC, where the 7-5 Bengals are on the outside looking in on the AFC playoff picture right now.

Cincinnati, a relatively balanced team ranked in the top 13 in rushing, passing, run defense and pass defense, has won their last four games.

They're led by the passing combination of former TCU QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green, who's quickly become one of the NFL's elite WRs.

For Dallas, with RB DeMarco Murray back in the fold, the key will be running the ball early, shortening the game and allowing the Cowboys offense to play from ahead.

Dallas has been able to survive slow starts against teams like Philadelphia and Cleveland, but they can't afford to come out flat against Dalton and Green.

A loss on Sunday would bring the Cowboys season to the brink, as their last three games are all against playoff contenders (the Steelers, Saints and Redskins) and they'll likely need at least a 9-7 mark to think about sneaking into the playoffs.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.