Miami Dolphins (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2 SU, 0-2-1 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date/Time: Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Paul Brown Stadium
TV: NFL, DTV: 212
by Chad Holloway, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIA +7/CIN -7
Over/Under Total: 44
This week’s Thursday Night Football matchup is an exciting one despite being against two 1-2 teams. Both the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals are jockeying for position in the AFC, and there really is a lot on the line. The winner will improve to 2-2 and put themselves back in the Playoff hunt, while the loser will fall into a likely insurmountable 1-3 hole.
The Bengals, who are 1-2 for the first time in five years, are coming off a 17-29 loss to the Denver Broncos. It wasn’t pretty in front of the hometown crowd, but at least they finally got their running game going as Jeremy Hill ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Speaking of the Bengals run game, they’re ranked a lowly 27th in the league averaging 82 yards per game (YPG). The Dolphins, who got lucky to win last week after Cleveland Browns kicker Cody Parkey missed three field goals (including one in the closing seconds), aren’t much better at 83 YPG, which puts them 25th in the league.
Interestingly, the two teams are close in the passing game too. The Dolphins are ranked 10th averaging 282.7 YPG, while the Bengals are 7th with 293 YPG. Regarding the former, Ryan Tannehill currently boasts an 88.8 passer rating on the season having completed 73 of 113 passes for 892 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions. As for the Bengals’ Andy Dalton, he has an 89.0 passer rating after completing 75 of 115 passes for 938 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
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In their respective receiving corps, Jarvis Landry leads the Dolphins with 24 receptions for 314 yards (13.1 Avg) and a touchdown, while the Bengals’ A.J. Green is close behind with 22 catches for 295 yards (13.4 Avg) and a score of his own. Again, a balanced affair, though the two teams begin to differentiate on the other side of the ball.
The Dolphins defense is ranked 28th in the league allowing an average of 415 total YPG (267.7 passing YPG and 147.3 rushing YPG), while the Bengals are 15th allowing 356.3 total YPG (247 passing YPG and 109.3 rushing YPG). However, the Dolphins rank better in points per game and third down conversion % allowed at 22.3 PPG and 35.6% respectively. The Bengals allow 25 PPG and 41.5%.
Neither of these teams are living up to their potential and the simple fact of the matter is they need to find a way to win. The Dolphins got the monkey off their back last week (though it was far from pretty), while the Bengals have dropped their last two games.
Chad Holloway's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: On paper these two teams are in the same boat, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story. The Bengals are clearly contenders (they’ve made the Playoffs for five years running) who’ve been having a rough go as of late, while the Dolphins (who haven’t made the Playoffs since 2008) seem to be pretenders. That’s not to say the Dolphins don’t have potential -- they’ve certainly got talented players on the roster – but if they have it they haven’t showed it.
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has sent his team a “perform of take a seat” message, meaning he won’t hesitate to bench players. Gase will whip his team into shape, but it’s going to take time. The Dolphins still have plenty of growing pains to experience, and this week it’s in the form of the Bengals, who I believe will rebound on the short week. They’ll establish the run game, which will open things up for Dalton and Green. Look for the Bengals to go up early, keep the pressure on, and force the Fins to take to the air.
The Dolphins have a knack for hanging around and keeping things close to the end, so the big line scares me. If the game was in Miami, I’d likely side with the Dolphins, but since it’s not and they have to travel on a short week, I’m going with the Bengals in this matchup. I think they’ll cover the spread and combined the two teams will go over 44 points.
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