The Miami Dolphins are off to a 3-0 start, and it hasn’t come against patsies either. They have found dramatic ways to win against the Ravens and Bills. And now they continue the grueling early part of their schedule as they face a Super Bowl team. The Cincinnati Bengals await them on Thursday night (8:15 PM ET) at Paycor Stadium. BetOnline customers can see this on Amazon Prime Video.
The Dolphins, of course, hired Mike McDaniel as head coach this season. The former San Francisco offensive coordinator immediately went after speed, and he got it. The notable acquisition was Tyreek Hill, who combined with Jaylen Waddle to form something scary. Through these first three games, they have already connected with Tua Tagovailoa for big plays. Waddle, who caught over 100 passes last year, has 342 yards. And Hill is averaging 15.1 yards per catch.
The Bengals lost their first two games, but admittedly the first was something of a fluke. They lost their long snapper to injury against Pittsburgh. That led to a couple of botched kicks that constituted the difference between victory and defeat. Then they lost to a Dallas team that was without starting quarterback Dak Prescott. They recovered last week to beat the Jets 27-12. But while parts of it may have been efficient, it was not overwhelming.
There are only two undefeated teams left in the NFL, believe it or not. One of them is the Philadelphia Eagles. The other is the Dolphins.
In the Thursday Night Football odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Bengals are favored at home:
Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals Odds
|Dolphins||+3½ (-110)||47 (-110)||+160|
|Bengals||-3½ (-110)||47 (-110)||-190|
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What is the Dolphins’ challenge?
With a very short period of time between games, perhaps fatigue is an issue for Miami. We say that by virtue of the fact that the defense played 90 snaps against Buffalo. The Bills put together long scoring drives. Maybe the Bengals won’t do that kind of thing. But if the Dolphins go two-deep with the safeties, Joe Burrow will throw a lot underneath. And that will extend drives if they’re successful.
It is likely that the Dolphins will mix up the coverages. That’s something coordinator Josh Boyer likes to do. And he also likes to blitz. His conundrum is that even though the Cincinnati offensive line has allowed fifteen sacks, Burrow can beat the blitz. He was fifth most efficient in the league under those conditions last season.
What is the Bengals’ challenge?
Cincinnati’s defense has put up better numbers than its offense thus far. In fact, the Bengals are fifth best in the league in yards allowed per drive.
But the defense is obviously going to be challenged deep. That’s what Waddle and Hill are there for. But maybe Cincinnati can take a little encouragement out of the fact that Miami did not exactly go up and down the field at will against a Buffalo secondary that was missing all its starters. When the Dolphins get close, Cincinnati needs to stiffen up; Tua is 69.2% accurate in the red zone, without an interception.
Who comes out ahead in the end?
Did Miami’s effort against Buffalo indicate that it is an elite team? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. The Dolphins were able to thwart the Bills down near the goal line a few times. But they surrendered 497 yards and 31 first downs. Through the first three games, only one team has allowed more yardage per drive than they have. And to keep putting up successful red zone stands? That’s not sustainable.
Miami may need a little more recovery time than this. We’re going to lay the points here.
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