By: Fran Cava
After escaping the Buffalo Bills by the skin of their teeth in Week 3, Miami heads on the road to try and remain one of the two undefeated teams in the early 2022 campaign. This week, they have the pleasure of taking on the high-powered Bengals offense, which has yet to show the potential they exuded in last season’s improbable playoff run. They enter this game 1-2, looking to get the ball rolling after last week’s breezy win over the New York Jets on the road. This being a plausible AFC playoff matchup in January, tonight’s game should be a thrilling battle between two of the best young teams in football.
Odds courtesy of Draft Kings
MIA Dolphins: +3.5(-110)
CIN Bengals: -3.5(-110)
Why you should pick the Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals offense strung together two consecutive disappointing weeks to start the year, and the explanation is easy. One, the offensive line laid down and left Joe Burrow to die on 97% of the snaps played. It gave Bengals fans Vietnam flashbacks of the 2020 season, where Joe Shiesty had less than two seconds a play to get rid of the ball. Secondly, the run game has been nonexistent. It’s easy to pin these struggles on the swiss cheese offensive line, but some of the blame has to be put on the playcalling which has stopped emphasizing the run completely.
Against the Jets, the line gave Joe a chance to operate and they walked away victorious with ease. Cincinnati should have similar success against a Miami team that was exposed the last two weeks. After giving up 38 points to an explosive Ravens team in Week 2, Miami somehow limited the Bills to 19 points despite allowing almost 500 yards of offense. That kind of play is not sustainable, and this Bengals offense has the opportunity to finally have a breakout performance that makes a statement in the AFC. The key will be for Tee Higgins to stay on the field, after being limited to snaps these past games for being hit hard. The more success the line allows Joe Mixon to have, the easier it will be for Burrow to get his playmakers the ball in the secondary.
Fun Fact: Last time these two quarterbacks went head-to-head was in college on November 9th, 2019. Burrow’s tigers won that day 46-41 vs. Tua and the tide.
Why you should pick the Miami Dolphins
Miami could not have started this season any better. After going 2-0 to start, the world labeled them doomed heading into a match with the early Superbowl favorite Buffalo Bills. Despite getting outplayed for most of the game, they kept it close and struck late to pull out a scary victory at home. The offense has looked sharper than ever, with Tua and his two wideout speedsters Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, clicking on all cylinders. Miami’s ability to beat you deep is frightening for shaky secondaries, and this looks as if this will be a great matchup for them. The run game has been balanced to start, but expect that to be stuffed tonight with the presence of the Bengal’s daunting defensive line, led by Trey Hendrickson.
Miami’s defensive approach has focused on sending a ton of pressure up front, so the Bengals will have to react quickly if they don’t want to get caught in the backfield. Given the likes of their offensive line, Miami has a good chance of making Burrow uncomfortable, which is the utmost important aspect of disrupting the flow of this Bengal’s offense.
This, like every prime-time game, is extremely difficult to pick. Both teams are expected to be playoff teams, and each team can use a win to silence their doubters. Miami is overachieving according to many, and the Bengals have the label fluke cast over their heads. I think both teams end up with 10-wins anyway, but tonight Miami will bask in the glory. Expect both teams to put up twenty, with a fast-paced start. I lean Miami +3.5, because of the pressure they were able to put on Josh Allen late. If they have that success from the jump tonight, the Bengals line will have a tough time not being flagged and will cause the offense to stall more times than not. I don’t think it will come down to a field goal, but it’s not a bad safety net for the road dog here.
Take MIA Dolphins +3.5, Under 48
Final Score Prediction: Miami 27 – Cincinnati 20