The Cincinnati Bengals have made the postseason a franchise-record five straight seasons. That streak will be in major jeopardy if the 1-2 Bengals lose at home to fellow 1-2 team Miami in the Thursday night NFL game this week. It’s the first meeting between the clubs in three years, and Cincinnati is around a touchdown favourite on Sports Interaction NFL odds. While the past two Thursday night games were available via streaming on Twitter, this week’s is not.
Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Point spread: Bengals -7
Date: Thursday, Sept. 29, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
The Dolphins tried their best to blow Sunday’s home opener to the beleaguered Cleveland Browns but escaped with 30-24 overtime win to give new head coach Adam Gase his first victory. The Fins were up 24-13 in the fourth quarter but saw Cleveland tie it with about three minutes left. As Miami was attempting to drive for a potential winning field goal attempt, Ryan Tannehill made the unforgivable mistake of fumbling the ball on a sack with under 30 seconds to go. That allowed the Browns to try a 46-yard field goal at the end of regulation, but recently-signed Cleveland kicker Cody Parkey missed it — his third miss of the day. The Dolphins won it on a Jay Ajayi 11-yard TD run in overtime.
Tannehill threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns but also two picks. The Dolphins were without top running back Arian Foster due to injury, and Kenyan Drake rushed nine times for 37 yards starting in his place. Ajayi added 28 yards and that score on seven carries. Foster will sit again Thursday. Jarvis Landry had his second straight 100-yard game with seven catches for 120 yards and a TD. He’s tied for the NFL lead with 24 catches and leads the AFC with 314 receiving yards. Starting tight end Jordan Cameron had one catch for five yards and suffered a concussion in the Cleveland game. He’s out Thursday.
The Miami defense allowed the offensively-challenged Browns 430 total yards and 169 on the ground. Stopping the run has been an issue as Miami is 31st in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 147.3 yards per game. It’s middle-of-the-pack against the pass.
Dolphins fans will certainly recognize two members of the Cincinnati coaching staff. Kevin Coyle was Miami’s defensive coordinator last season but was fired after a Week 4 loss along with head coach Joe Philbin. Bill Lazor was the team’s offensive coordinator, and he was dumped in late November. Lazor is now Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach and Coyle the secondary coach.
Coyle’s unit is under fire after it was torched last week in a 29-17 home loss to Denver. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian, making only his third NFL start and first on the road, threw for 312 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the comeback win. Siemian became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in his first career road start.
The Cincinnati defense will get a boost on Thursday, although more in stopping the run, in the season debut of linebacker Vontaze Burfict. He was suspended the first three games for his dirty hit on Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown in last year’s wild-card game. That penalty played a big role in the Bengals blowing that game against Pittsburgh. When Burfict was in the lineup last year, the Bengals allowed just 82.9 rushing yards per game. They gave up 27 yards more rushing per game when he was out.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton has an AFC-high 938 passing yards despite not having Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert yet this season. He had offseason surgery on his ankle after injuring it in the Pro Bowl. Eifert might play Thursday, but it would be limited if so. He led all tight ends with 13 TD catches last year and caught 52 passes for 615 yards in 13 games.
Dolphins vs. Bengals Prediction
Cincinnati used to be one of best home teams in the NFL but has lost three of its past four there including playoffs. The Dolphins have won three straight in this series, but that ends Thursday. However, I would recommend betting the alternate 6.5-point line at -112 for the Bengals, who have covered 13 of their past 18 games following a loss. Miami is just 3-15 ATS in its past 18 vs. the AFC. Go under the total.