The Miami Dolphins face the Bengals on Thursday night looking to maintain their perfect start to the season under new head coach Mike McDaniel.
Meanwhile the Bengals have struggled to get their season off the ground after shocking all-comers last year on a run to the Super Bowl that saw them come up just short. While the Bengals have played their two losses close, 23-20 vs Steelers and 20-17 vs Cowboys, they have serious concerns along their offensive line.
With Joe Burrow already being sacked a staggering 15 times, he’s on pace to break last years mark of 70 by quite some distance. The most worrying aspect for the Bengals is that it’s not just one hole on the OL, with three lineman having given up two or more sacks, and all five of the starters having allowed at least one.
This will be music to the ears of Dolphins DC Josh Boyer who’s unit may be in need of a little confidence boost having given up 470+ yards in back to back weeks. The concern for the Dolphins is having spent nearly three quarters of last weeks home game against Buffalo on the field in 100 degree heat, they may be slightly gassed coming off only three days rest.
Having registered only two-sacks over the first two weeks, the Dolphins sacked Bills QB Josh Allen four-times on Sunday, so expect a lot more pressure to be dialled up given the Bengals clear weakness. DL Coach Austin Clark is quickly building a name for himself in his third-year in Miami, so expect fireworks from that unit.
With Xavien Howard nursing a groin injury, and Byron Jones still on IR, the defence has been left very exposed by Nik Needham, Kader Kohou, and Eric Rowe playing in coverage with each giving up at least 70% completions. As a team the Dolphins are allowing 74.3% of passes to be completed, so a heavy dose of QB pressure will help to take some stress off the defensive backfield.
Dolphins offence will be looking to explode (again)
While the defence has struggled at times the offence has put up some big plays in the last two weeks with Tua Tagovailoa finding both Tyreek Hill (317 yards, 2 TDs) and Jaylen Waddle (342 yards, 3 TD’s) for big plays.
The rest of the offence has got a little left behind, with no other receiver seeing more than 8 targets through three games, and the running attack being mostly shut-down by defences every week. Mike McDaniels’ much vaunted run-game scheme getting just 192 yards through three games has been the only major downside on offence so far.
That said, the Dolphins face the Bengals needing to find more consistency on offence, and a way to balance out the big-hitting quick plays, with keeping the defence off the field more.
With Terron Armstead, Tua Tagovailoa, Jaylen Waddle, Ced Wilson all questionable on the offence, we would expect them all to play, but the biggest doubts have to be over Tua after his “back” injury against the Bills.
Week 4 Prediction
It’s hard not to be concerned about the defence after Sundays game. Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase is a combination that will always spread fear, and even with his QB lying on his back a lot this season Chase has still put up 212 yards and 2 touchdowns.
But assuming the offence can find some consistency, and the defence can get some pressure it’s impossible not to pick the Dolphins on current form.
Fins win 23-14