What to know for tonight’s Dolphins-Bengals Thursday Night Football Game :
- The Dolphins come into this game with several players OUT, most notably Arian Foster, Jordan Cameron, starting C Maurkice Pouncey, and OLBs Koa Misi & Jelani Jenkins.
- Cincinnati will be without their top CB Dre Kirkpatrick and S Derron Smith is QUESTIONABLE for tonight. Tyler Eifert is also DOUBTFUL.
- The Bengals get Vontaze Burfict back in the lineup after serving a 3 game suspension. His leadership alone is a boost for Cincinnati and he’ll be needed tonight.
Dolphins backup C Anthony Steen has filled in for Pouncey the last 3 weeks but is DOUBTFUL for tonight’s game. Geno Atkins will be lined up against a 3rd string Center on the interior.
- Cincinnati struggled to generate big plays on offense vs Denver last week and managed only 4 plays of 20+ yards the entire game. The Bengals had 7 plays of 20+ yards vs both the Steelers in Week 2 and the Jets in Week 1. Miami is a step down defensively from the three teams Cincinnati has faced so far and the Bengals’ ability to generate big plays will be key for allowing them to develop the run game as the game goes on.
- AJ Green had 2 huge mistakes late in the game vs Denver when the Bengals were trailing by 5 with the ball. First he missed an assignment and mixed up a run play with a pass play. Then he had a huge drop which held Cincinnati from scoring. AJ Green rarely has two bad games in a row and when you dig into AJ Green’s numbers you’ll see he does really well after a bad performance:
AJ Green Week 2 ’15 vs SD: 3 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD
AJ Green Week 3 ’15: 10 catches, 227 yards, 2 TDs
AJ Green Week 6 ’15 vs BUF: 4 catches, 36 yards
AJ Green Week 7 ’15 : 11 catches, 118 yards, 1 TD
He had 1 catch for 37 yards in Week 15 and followed up it with a solid (not outstanding) 5 reception/57 yards/1 TD game at Denver.
7. Dolphins have allowed 147.3 rushing yards per game this season. The Bengals have been trying to establish a consistent run game and haven’t done so very successfully as Jeremy Hill had two games below 32 yards and Gio Bernard has rushed for just 3.3 yards per carry. If they can’t generate a run game tonight vs Miami then that’s a bad sign for the Bengals going forward.
8. Bengals allowed just 37 yards to CJ Anderson on 14 carries last week for a miserable 2.6 yards/carry. This was the same CJ Anderson that ran all over Carolina two weeks ago. Siemian torched the Bengals’ secondary and it will be up to the veteran players in the Bengals’ secondary to make sure that doesn’t happen tonight versus Tannehill. Geno Atkins’ pressure on the interior would make the secondary’s job a lot easier.
Prediction& thoughts: The Dolphins are banged up much worse than the Bengals are and the Bengals have the personnel to exploit the Dolphins’ backups tonight, starting with the matchup of Geno Atkins vs the Dolphins 3rd string Center. How quickly the Bengals forgot about the Broncos loss will be key to how they perform tonight. The Bengals won by 21 over the Browns last year on Thursday Night Football and should want to use their first primetime game of the season to make everyone forget about Trevor Siemian torching them for 4 TDs. The NFL is a funny league where teams can get blown out one week and then play like a playoff team the next – just look at the Rams beating Seattle on a short week right after losing by 28 in San Francisco. Burfict should inject some life into the Bengals defense and the Bengals will have to tighten up vs Jarvis Landry and force Devante Parker or Kenny Stills to beat them. The Bengals should be able to have opportunities to build a lead as the game gets into the 2nd half. Bengals 27-16.