Thursday Night Football Preview: Dolphins vs. Bengals
Thursday Night Football Preview
Line: Cincinnati Bengals (-4) | O/U 47
The NFL season is in full swing with Week 4 quickly approaching. This season has provided its fair share of exciting matchups and this Thursday is no different. For the start of Week 4, we will have the pleasure of watching the undefeated Miami Dolphins take on the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals.
The line for this matchup has the Bengals listed as four point favorites at home with an O/U of 47. Normally, this line would probably be a little closer, but there appears to be some uncertainty surrounding Tua Tagovailoa and his health. It looked like Tua suffered a concussion in Week 3, but he quickly returned to the game and was reported to have had a back injury. Fans are pretty skeptical about that report, but it’s all we have to go off of at this point. With that being said, Tua did record a recent limited practice and appears to be trending toward playing on Thursday.
The Dolphins have emerged as one of the more surprising teams through three weeks. They’re now under the control of first-time head coach, Mike McDaniel, and are coming off of an upset win against the Super Bowl favorite, Buffalo Bills.
On defense, Miami’s performance hasn’t been clear-cut. On one hand, they’re allowing the second most yards per game to opposing offenses. But on the other hand, they’ve played two top 5 offenses in the Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills to start the season. So, while they look awful on paper, that may be due to the massive tests they’ve had to face early on. Either way, they’ll need to look better to keep up with a Bengals offense that has plenty of weapons.
The offense has been the crown jewel of this team with Mike McDaniel being able to utilize the talents of his two all-world receivers to help quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. The combination of the two fastest receivers in the NFL in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle has been giving defenses headaches while Tua is able to hit either of them deep at a solid clip. With these two having the ability to burn a defender in single coverage at will, the defense has to allot a significant amount of attention to them.
With the combination of an offensive mastermind, two hypercars for wide receivers, and a quarterback who appears to be on the rise, the Bengals might have their hands full this Thursday if they don’t thoroughly prepare.
The Bengals are having a bit of a Super Bowl hangover to start the season. They won their Week 3 matchup against the Jets, but as a whole, it’s been a struggle with a 1-2 record.
On the defensive side, this team has been one of the better units in football as they’re top-10 in yards allowed per game, rushing yards allowed per game, and total points allowed. They boast two top-20 cornerbacks in Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie according to PFF’s defensive grades.
They also have a stud on the edge in Trey Hendrickson, who is known to wreck offensive lines. Unfortunately, their star defensive tackle, D.J. Reader, is out indefinitely with a knee injury. The Bengals will be missing his irreplaceable impact in run defense and pass rush during Week 4 and for the foreseeable future.
Trey Hendrickson in Week 3:— PFF (@PFF) September 26, 2022
🐅 8 pressures
🐅 2.5 sacks
🐅 2 forced fumbles
🐅 32.3% win percentage pic.twitter.com/U9V1NRIpcd
On offense, the pieces from last year’s run are still there, but it starts with the offensive line. During the offseason, Cincinnati was praised for addressing what many thought of as their biggest weakness with the additions of La’el Collins (right tackle), Alex Cappa (right guard), and Ted Karras (center).
But even with those additions, the Bengals are still struggling to protect their young quarterback phenom, Joe Burrow. Burrow has been pressured 38 times, hit 17 times, and sacked 15 times so far this season. All of those statistics rank in the top 5 highest in their respective categories. Some of the blame has to go toward Burrow and his constant need to extend plays, but come on, the Bengals spent too much money for this offensive line to not play any better than they were a season ago.
As far as their weapons go, they’re still loaded with wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, along with running back Joe Mixon. Cincinnati’s strengths stem from their ability to hit their star receivers deep. That strength is taken away if this offensive line can’t stand tall while plays develop. We’ll see how they fare against a Miami Dolphins team that ranks in the top half of the league in blitz percentage.
Dolphins vs. Bengals Prediction
Although Miami is undefeated, I feel like the Bengals hand them their first loss this season. The whole situation surrounding Tua Tagovailoa has me concerned about his performance this week. Even if he manages to suit up, will he truly be 100 percent? Also, the Bengals have a solid defense that has the capability of slowing down this Miami offense.
The Bengals have been struggling to start the season and they could easily return to form against a Dolphins team that hasn’t proved that it has the capability of stopping much on defense. I see this as a statement game from a Cincinnati Bengals team that has had its fair share of doubters throughout the early portion of the 2022 season.
The Pick: Bengals -4
NFL DFS Showdown Flex Targets
WR - Tee Higgins ($8,200)
Coming off of a game where he was robbed of a long touchdown, Tee Higgins has a solid chance to have a boom performance here in Week 4. The Dolphins rank 29th in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA, and Higgins usually sees WR1-type usage even with Ja’Marr Chase on the field. This is a solid spot for him to have some big plays downfield against a weak secondary.
RB - Raheem Mostert ($4,400)
This Miami backfield appears to be a complete 50/50 split between Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds. That doesn’t sound like an attractive situation for fantasy, but in a DFS slate, you take all the value you can get. With Mostert seeing essentially the same amount of work as his backfield mate in Edmonds while being priced $1,800 less at $4,400, he could be a solid value for Thursday’s lineups.
TE - Hayden Hurst ($5,400)
Hayden Hurst had a down week in Week 3 as he saw only two targets on the day. However, after three weeks, he’s still averaging 5.7 targets per game. Against a Miami defense that ranks 30th in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA against tight ends, Hurst could be in for a solid performance.
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Jack Camenzind is a writer for FantasyData as well as RotoBaller but he spent time previously as a writer for 5th Down Fantasy. He is a recent graduate of Butler University who is currently residing in St. Louis, Missouri. His deep sports knowledge is primarily tied to the NFL but he’s still a massive fan of the MLB and NBA. He is also a huge St. Louis sports fan but his NFL loyalty is tied to the Denver Broncos, and not just because the Rams moved to Los Angeles. Outside of sports, Jack is a crime drama fan, a frequent runner, and an occasional gamer.