By Danny Cox
Although this week’s Thursday Night Football match-up pits two 1-2 teams against each other, that doesn’t make the game any less important. Neither the Miami Dolphins nor the Cincinnati Bengals can afford another early-season loss, as neither team wants to try to crawl out of a 1-3 hole. So this non-divisional AFC match-up is still a huge game.
The Dolphins are coming off of an overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns in a game that shouldn’t have been so close. After going up by 11 early in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins offense seemed to disappear, and the defense couldn’t stop the Browns.
They’ll have to be much better in Week 4, as the Bengals are a much better team. Dolphins head coach, Adam Gase, may have notched a victory last week, but he certainly shouldn’t be happy with it.
“If you’re Miami… Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams, you’re going to have to carry this defense and make this Bengals team one-dimensional,” said CBS Sports’ Bart Scott. “If I’m Ryan Tannehill, Adam Gase is going to have to get him on the move, use his athleticism and take shots down the field. Hope you can hit something big early.”
If Miami can jump out early and build a lead on the Bengals, they shouldn’t take their foot off the gas pedal. Cincinnati is a dangerous team with a lot of offensive talent. Given a chance, the Bengals can climb right back into pretty much any game.
On the other side of the field, the Bengals have lost two in a row after a win to open the season. And, strangely, things are just not working for Marvin Lewis’s squad, despite all the talent. This team should be sitting atop the AFC North, not lounging in third place.
“The Bengals cannot be happy with themselves right now,” said Boomer Esiason. “Especially offensively… the last two performances against the Steelers and the Broncos were not good at all.”
Cincinnati held the lead over the Denver Broncos many times in Week 3, but they still allowed quarterback Trevor Siemian to take over the game late. Some aspects of the Bengals’ game came together well, but they weren’t firing on all cylinders.
The running game looked good as running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, the passing game — which is normally strong — couldn’t find a rhythm and ended up moving backward.
The Bengals just can’t seem to get it together, and it’s hurting them in a big way, leaving them 1-2 for the first time in five years. The Dolphins also have their troubles, but they at least seem to be gelling as a team. If the Dolphins can play a full 60 minutes like they did the first three quarters against the Browns, they’ll overtake the floundering Bengals.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins 24 – Cincinnati Bengals 21
Danny Cox has been covering the NFL for the past decade and has been watching it for two more. From injury reports to playoff races, he follows every single team and longs for the months of July to February.