Miami Dolphins Week 4 Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

oe Burrow (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
oe Burrow (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Your AFC-leading Miami Dolphins (3-0) travel up to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals (1-2).

The Dolphins’ first prime-time matchup of the season comes in the form of a Thursday Night Football clash against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium. The Bengals finally managed to wrangle the monkey off their back, earning their first win of the season against the New York Jets on Sunday. The Dolphins are coming off an emotional statement win against the Buffalo Bills, taking sole possession of first place in the AFC East. How do the Dolphins and Bengals match up against each other?

Bengals and Joe Burrow finally get going in ‘get-right’ game against the Jets

Call it a Super Bowl hangover, but the Bengals did not look right in the first two weeks of the season. Their typically electric offense led by young phenom Joe Burrow that took the league by storm last season looked out of sorts to start off the year as Cincinnati started a surprising 0-2. After a sloppy week one overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Burrow tossed four interceptions and Evan McPherson had his game-winning chipshot field goal blocked, the Bengals then fell flat against a Day Prescott-less Dallas Cowboys in week two. In the first two games of the season, Cincinnati scored an uncharacteristically measly 18.5 points per game.

In week three, the league luckily threw a softball to the Bengals in the form of the New York Jets. Joe Burrow tossed three touchdowns as the Bengals won convincingly 27-12 in MetLife Stadium, looking like their old selves in the process. Joe Burrow looked sharp, throwing for 375 yards and the Cincinnati defense did its job keeping the Jets out of the end zone for the entirety of the contest. A cupcake opponent like the Jets was likely just what the Bengals needed as they prepare for Thursday night against the undefeated Dolphins.

Make no mistake — the Bengals are still very good

Let’s ignore the 1-2 record for a minute and focus on the numbers from the Bengals this season. According to ESPN, Joe Burrow has thrown for 812 yards and 6 touchdowns through three games this season, good for 10th in the league. Keep in mind, Burrow has not been at his best and is still putting up top-10 numbers. Jamarr Chase, Burrow’s favorite target, has already accumulated 212 yards — 102 of which have been yards after the catch. If Burrow can start connecting with Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd like he did last year, watch out.

The Cincinnati defensive unit allows only 310 yards per game, is good for 8th in the league, and has only allowed 18 points per game through three weeks. The Bengals’ defense is still playing as well as they did a year ago; they’re just not generating the turnovers we’re used to seeing. This is still the same defense that knocked out Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship less than a year ago, holding the star-studded offense to 24 points and picking off Mahomes twice. The talent is still there — they have just not been executing. This defensive unit needs to find its footing from last year, but the Dolphins hope to keep them on their heels.

The bottom line

The Dolphins are riding a euphoric 3-0 start to the season, still high off an enormous win against the Bills. While the Dolphins won’t have home-field advantage and a 100-plus degree heat index on their side on Thursday night, they look to continue their scorching start to the season coming off a short week. One could argue the Bengals need the win more as they sit tied for third in the AFC North. Cincinnati has looked shaky at times and there has been a bit to be concerned about, but it’s only been three weeks and they should not even come close to the panic button yet.

Next. Miami Dolphins deserve to be the number one team in the NFL. dark

Neither team is facing a must-win game, but whoever wins the contest will be making a loud statement on national television. The Bengals could even out their record and show the country they are still not to be taken lightly by putting the first blemish on the Dolphins’ record. The Dolphins look to remain perfect and declare to the world that they are the team to beat in the AFC and close off a flawless first quarter of their season.

Who makes their statement on Thursday night? Find out at 8:15 ET on Thursday night as the Dolphins make their Amazon Prime broadcast debut in Cincinnati. The Bengals open up as 3.5-point home favorites.