Dolphins at Bengals: Time, live stream, how to watch, key matchups, picks for 'Thursday Night Football'

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

The Miami Dolphins have so far passed every test thrown their way. Bill Belichick’s Patriots, defeated in Week 1, came back strong to defeat Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2, and eliminated Super Bowl favorites Buffalo Bills from the undefeated ranks in Week 2. Week 3. On Thursday night, their final test arrives in the form of the defending AFC champions Cincinnati Bengals.

Joe Burrow and Co. are coming off their first win of the season – a laugh against the New York Jets. They had previously gone 0-2 against players like Mitchell Trubisky’s Pittsburgh Steelers and Cooper Rush’s Dallas Cowboys. So this is probably the toughest opponent they’ve faced to date. That’s especially true because of Miami’s defensive style of play, which has the potential to cause significant problems for the Bengals.

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

How to watch

Date: Thursday September 29 | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: PayCor Stadium (Cincinnati)
Flow: Amazon Prime Video
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Bengals -4, O/U 47

Featured game | Cincinnati Bengals vs. Miami Dolphins

When the dolphins have the ball

Going into this season, the Dolphins are arguably the NFL’s most compelling offense. New head coach Mike McDaniel was the run-game coordinator in San Francisco and was to bring a Kyle Shanahan-style offense that relied heavily on running and play-action, contraband pass concepts. Only part of that happened.

Rather than being heavily loaded, Miami ranks second in the NFL in pass-to-expectation rate, according to Tru Media. McDaniel has indeed imported some of Shanahan’s concepts into the racing game and especially on the action game, but the Dolphins are operating from the shotgun at a much higher pace and incorporating a lot more option concepts from run-pass than McDaniel’s old team – presumably because those are the areas where Tua Tagovailoa is most comfortable.

It all works quite well so far. The Dolphins currently rank fourth in third down conversion rate and the share of their plays gained 10 or more yards; third in yards per play and completion rate; second in EPA per game and the share of their records that went to three; and first in points per reader. They rip through defenses like razors with all the speed they can put on the pitch. Tyreek Hill draws tons of attention with every snap. Jaylen Waddle takes advantage. These two players open wide throwing lanes in the middle of the field.


Pretty much the only thing that doesn’t work at a high level is the racing game itself, which is an interesting development. Neither Chase Edmonds nor Raheem Mostert have been able to really get on the right track so far. Part of that is playing against a trio of opponents who are good at stopping the run in the Patriots, Ravens and Bills. A part is an offensive line that, although improved, is still below average. And in part, the running backs themselves do little to break up tackles or create yards after contact.

Despite the lack of rushing success, however, Miami’s passing offense was elitist: Tagovailoa faked a run on 39.1% of his dropbacks, the second-highest rate in football. When the Dolphins went for a run on first down, Tagovailoa completed 19 of 23 passes (82.6%) for 289 yards (12.6 per attempt). He only took one sack on those throwbacks and he threw the ball 20 yards or more downfield 26.1% of the time. All that and he recorded the fourth-best EPA per-game average in the league on 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 Cincinnati’s linebackers and safeties can resist the temptation to show up and join the run in shape. on plays when the Dolphins are actually throwing the ball. One misstep and Hill, Waddle or both will beat you, either over the top or on the move. So far, Tagovailoa has shown its 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 play up front and move him out of place as soon as he hits the top of his dropback – a feat returned. more difficult due to the fact that they are operating so often out of the gun and therefore it doesn’t take as many traditional backtracking.

When the Bengals have the ball

Cincinnati is coming off its best game of the season, and it’s probably no coincidence that after facing Cover-2 on 36.7% of Joe Burrow’s dropbacks in Week 1 against the Steelers and 50% of his dropbacks in Week 2 against the Cowboys, the Bengals saw ONE Cover-2 snap 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 an incredible nine sacks against Cover-2. It’s worth noting that Burrow faced Cover-2 on just 77 dropouts throughout last season, and the incredible surge at the start of this year was likely designed to take away some of the “let’s throw it at Ja ‘Marr Chase deep in the sideline’ who did so well in Cincinnati last year.


The Dolphins have played cover-2 on 14.6% of pass snaps this season, a significant increase from last year’s mark of 7.6%. However, they’ve been mostly a single-cover team, playing Cover-1 or Cover-3 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 game. Miami loves the blitz and could potentially overwhelm what has been a severely overwhelmed Bengals offensive line doing so. But the Dolphins also might not need to blitz as often to generate pressure on Burrow, and leaving more defenders in cover could allow them to use more of the two-man tricks that have bothered the Bengals so far. this season.

Boyer’s decision can probably be seen through the lens of sophomore safety Jevon Holland, who is an absolute threat all over the court. On eight pass-rush snaps, Holland has three pressures and 1.5 sacks, per Tru Media. In 129 coverage snaps, he was only targeted five times, allowing three completions for 37 yards and one interception. He’s most often lined up as a true free safety, but according to Pro Football Focus he also fell in the box on 21 snaps, took 17 snaps from the slot and played along the defensive line for 15 snaps. It’s a chess piece whose moves can be used to dictate what the offense should do on a given snap. His lineup usually doesn’t add much, though, as Miami can spin in any number of covers or blitzes no matter where he is before the shot.

Playing more two-high looks (pre-snap, if not necessarily post-snap) often invites and incentivizes opponents to run the ball. Cincinnati has been extremely unsuccessful in the rushing game so far this season, ranking 30th in yards per rush, EPA per rush and DVOA in the Outsiders football offense. Joe Mixon is averaging an abysmal 2.8 yards per sack, with just 0.91 yards before contact. He was tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage more often (29.3% of his points) than he gained five or more yards (26.7%). In other words, the overhaul of the offensive line that was supposed to be a dramatic upgrade didn’t work at all. Miami is seventh in DVOA rushing defense so far this season, so it seems at least somewhat unlikely that the Bengals will find much rushing success here.

Instead, the Bengals will likely have to rely on Burrow, Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Hayden Hurst to win on an individual level to move the ball. This group is, of course, more than capable of doing just that. Particularly with No. 2 corner Byron Jones still sidelined and Xavien Howard playing with a soft tissue injury, there could be opportunities for this crew to do damage on the perimeter. The Dolphins just forced the Bills to dink and dunk on the court all game last week and could possibly do the same with the Bengals, but it should be noted that this defense was on the court for NINETY a few days ago. , and might suffer from some fatigue here.

Prediction: Dolphins 27, Bengals 24

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