Dolphins at Bengals: Time, live streaming, how to watch, key matchups, pick for ‘Thursday Night Football’

The Miami Dolphins have passed every test thrown their way. Bill Belichick’s Patriots, defeated in Week 1, rushed back to defeat Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2 and knocked Super Bowl favorites Buffalo Bills out of the undefeated ranks in Week 3. On Thursday night comes their final test in the form of reigning AFC champions Cincinnati Bengals.

Joe Burrow and company claim their first win of the season – a laugh against the New York Jets. They had previously lost 2-0 to Mitchell Trubisky’s Pittsburgh Steelers and Cooper Rush’s Dallas Cowboys. So this is probably the toughest opponent they will face so far. That’s especially true because of the defensive style played by Miami, which can cause significant problems for the Bengals.

So are the Dolphins undefeated? Or will the Bengals hand them their first loss of the young season? We’ll find out soon enough. Before we break down the matchup, here’s how you can watch the match:

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Date: Thursday 29 Sept | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: PayCor Stadium (Cincinnati)
Electricity: Amazon Prime Video
Consequences: CBS Sports App
opportunities: Bengal -4, O/U 47

Featured Game | Cincinnati Bengals vs. Miami Dolphins

When the dolphins have the ball

As this season begins, the Dolphins are arguably the NFL’s most intriguing offense. New head coach Mike McDaniel was the run-game coordinator in San Francisco and was set to bring a Kyle Shanahan-style offense that relied heavily on the concepts of run-and-play action and bootleg passing. Only part of it happened.

Rather than being run-heavy, Miami ranks second in the NFL for a better-than-expected win rate, according to Tru Media. McDaniel did in fact carry some of the Shanahan concepts into the run game and play action in particular, but the Dolphins are operating from the shotgun at a much higher rate and incorporating far more run-pass option concepts than McDaniel’s previous team – probably because these are the areas in which Tua Tagovailoa feels most comfortable.

All of this has worked quite well so far. The Dolphins currently rank fourth in terms of third-down conversion rate and the percentage of their games gained by 10 yards or more. thirds in yards per game and win rate; Second in EPA per game and the percentage of their drives that went three-and-out; and first in points per trip. They spread defense gossamer-thin with all the speed they can put on the field. Tyreek Hill draws a lot of attention with every snap. Jaylen Waddle takes advantage of this. Both players open wide trajectories over the middle of the field.

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The only thing that doesn’t perform at a high level is the running game itself, which is an interesting development. Neither Chase Edmonds nor Raheem Mostert have been able to really get on track. Some of these play against a trio of opponents who are good at stopping the run of the Patriots, Ravens and Bills. Part of that is an offensive line that, while improved, is still sub-par. And some of that includes the running backs themselves, who don’t do much to break down tackles or add yards after contact.

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Despite the lack of overwhelming success, Miami’s play-action-passing attack was elite: Tagovailoa faked a run on 39.1% of his dropbacks, the second-highest rate in football. When the Dolphins faked a run on the first down, Tagovailoa completed 19 of 23 passes (82.6%) for 289 yards (12.6 per attempt). He only took one sack on those dropbacks and threw the ball down 20 or more yards 26.1% of the time. Overall, he has the fourth-best EPA per game average in the league in those games.

The question in this game isn’t so much whether the Dolphins can find a way to move the ball on the ground, but whether the Cincinnati linebackers and safeties can resist the temptation to show up and join the run when the Dolphins are fit are actually throwing the ball. One wrong step and Hill, Waddle or both will hit you – either over the top or on the move. So far, Tagovailoa has demonstrated the ability to find them in open space with a high level of consistency. Assuming he’s under center, the only way to prevent that from happening is to dominate the game up front and remove him from position once he reaches the top of his dropback – a feat reinforced by the fact that they are makes it difficult. He operates from the pistol so often and therefore doesn’t take as many traditional dropbacks.

When the Bengals have the ball

Cincinnati is coming off its best game of the season, and it’s probably no coincidence that after Joe Burrow had 36.7% of Joe Burrow’s dropbacks in Week 1 against the Steelers and 50% of his dropbacks in Week 2 against the Cowboys against Cover-2 Bengals saw ONE snap of Cover-2 against the Jets in Week 3, according to Tru Media. In those first two games, Burrow was 25 of 34 for 243 yards, three interceptions and a whopping nine sacks against cover-2s. It’s worth noting that Burrow faced Cover-2 with just 77 dropbacks all of last season, and the incredible spike earlier this year was probably designed to allow for some of that “let’s just throw it up deep in Ja’Marr Chase.” take the sideline” that was so successful for Cincinnati last year.

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The Dolphins have played cover-2s on 14.6% of passing snaps this season, a significant increase from last year’s 7.6% mark. However, they were primarily a single-high-coverage team, playing cover-1s or cover-3s on 57.5% of snaps. They also used Cover-0 at by far the highest rate in the NFL – 14.6%. It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Josh Boyer balances things out in this matchup. Miami loves to blitz and could potentially overwhelm the Bengals’ badly overwhelmed offensive line. But the Dolphins also might not need to blitz all that often to put pressure on Burrow, and keeping more defenders under cover could allow them to utilize more of the two-high stuff that’s troubled the Bengals so far this season .

The decision Boyer makes can likely be viewed through the prism of sophomore Jevon Holland, who poses an absolute threat across the field. With eight pass rush snaps, Holland has three pressures and 1.5 sacks, according to Tru Media. With 129 coverage snaps, he was tackled just five times, allowing for three completions for 37 yards and one interception. He mostly gets up as a true free safety, but according to Pro Football Focus he’s also boxed in with 21 snaps, took 17 snaps out of the slot and played 15 snaps down the defensive line. He’s a chess piece whose moves can be used to dictate what the offense must do on a given snap. However, his orientation doesn’t usually give much away, as Miami can rotate into any number of coverages or flashes no matter where he is before the snap.

Playing more two-high looks (pre-snap, if not necessarily post-snap) invites opponents and often entices them to run the ball. Cincinnati has been extremely unsuccessful in running game so far this season, checking in 30th in yards per carry, EPA per rush and Football Outsiders Rush Offense DVOA. Joe Mixon is averaging a terrific 2.8 yards per dead with just .91 yards from contact. He has been tackled on or behind the scrimmage line more times (29.3% of his rushes) than gained five yards or more (26.7%). In other words, the offensive line overhaul that was supposed to be a dramatic upgrade instead didn’t work at all. Miami is seventh in Rush Defense DVOA so far this season, so it seems at least a little unlikely that the Bengals will find much rush success here.

Instead, the Bengals will likely have to rely on Burrow, Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Hayden Hurst winning on an individual level to move the ball. This group, of course, is more than capable of doing just that. Especially with corner kick No. 2 Byron Jones still sidelined and Xavien Howard playing with a soft tissue injury, there could be opportunities for this side to do some damage on the periphery. The Dolphins just forced the Bills to dunk and dunk their way across the field all game last week and could potentially do the same to the Bengals, but it’s worth noting that defense was on the field for NINETY games just a few days ago , and might tire a bit here.

Prediction: Dolphins 27, Bengal 24

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