Miami (1-2) at Cincinnati (1-2)
When: Thursday, September 29th 2016
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: NFL Network
The Miami Dolphins will look to avoid their third 1-3 start in last five years when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 4. Miami is very lucky to come out of last week’s game against Cleveland with an overtime win. With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, right tackle Ja’Wuan James was burned on a rush that led to a strip sack, but the Browns missed the field goal and Miami won in overtime. James was immediatley benched by head coach Adam Gase and the first-year coach was very testy after the game. “I’m over discussing any of this stuff with players. We’re either going to start getting the job done, or we’re going to make changes.” With veteran Arian Foster still nursing a groin injury, Gase is expected to use rookie Kenyan Drake as the starter in a four-back rotation that also features Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Isaiah Pead. Ajayi had an 11-yard touchdown run in overtime last week, but the Dolphins are averaging just 83 yards a game on the ground and their leading rusher is quarterback Ryan Tannehill (54 yards). Tannehill continues has found a rapport with Jarvis Landry (AFC-leading 314 yards receiving) and fellow WR DeVante Parker. The defense is ranked 28th overall and 31st against the run allowing 147.3 yards a game on the ground.
The Bengals were impressive in their Week 1 victory over the Jets, but have suffered back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Denver. Running back Jeremy Hill scored twice last week and has 10 rushing touchdowns in his last 11 games and should be looking forward to facing a week Dolphins’ rush defense. Andy Dalton (AFC-best 938 passing yards) was held to just 206 yards passing last week versus the Broncos and A.J. Green has just 10 catches for 115 yards combined over the last two games. Pro Bowl TE Tyler Eifert (ankle) is not expected to make his season debut on Thursday. Defensively, the Bengals are in the middle of the pack when it comes to yards allowed, but are 20th in points allowed (25.0). They should get a boost when linebacker Vontaze Burfict makes his season debut on Thursday after serving a three-game suspension for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules. CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) has been held out of both practices this week, leaving his status for Thursday’s game in question.
Underdogs have been doing well so far in this young season and the public loves the Bengals in this game (68%). I expect the Dolphins running game to have more success tonight with up to four fresh legs coming in-and-out of the game. The Bengals have lost three of their last four home games and Miami has won seven of eight at Cincinnati.
Pick: Dolphins +7.5