This is a massive game for the Dolphins after the big win over the Buffalo Bills in Week Three and the comeback victory against the Baltimore Ravens in Week Two.
The Bengals have not had the start that anyone expected, less than eight months after losing to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 56.
However, their win in New York over the Jets will give them some confidence back. This, along with the sheer unpredictability of the NFL, makes this Thursday Night Football clash at the newly named Paycor Stadium one to have your eyes on. Can Miami get the win?
Keeping Momentum Going
There are arguments to be made that their 3-0 start is somewhat fraudulent, with the Ravens’ defensive collapse, the Bills’ injury problems, and missed field goal. However, one thing you cannot ignore is how electric this Miami offense has looked under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel.
Tua Tagovailoa has seen a massive improvement this season, becoming the third quarterback in Dolphins history to throw for six touchdowns in a single game in the Week Two win over Baltimore. There is no doubt he is a much happier quarterback. Only Josh Allen (1,014) has thrown for more passing yards than Tua (925), who is also tied for third in touchdown passes thrown (8). Only Lamar Jackson (10), Allen (9), and Patrick Mahomes (8) have thrown for more than or the same amount of touchdowns as Tua.
Tua’s accuracy has been there to see this season, and he is now showing his ability to throw deep. His weapons have certainly helped, with Jaylen Waddle and offseason addition Tyreek Hill in second and third, respectively, for receiving yards. However, this momentum has all the risks of falling off should Tua miss this game, especially with Tua being a left-handed thrower. This is as opposed to most NFL quarterbacks who use their right, backup Teddy Bridgewater being one.
Bridgewater had a brief cameo when Tua went down in the last game, and he did not look the same. Another concern comes with the potential of offensive linemen Terron Armstead, Waddle, and cornerback Xavien Howard being injury concerns.
The aforementioned start to the 2022 campaign made by Waddle shows how much of a miss he will be. Sixteen quarterbacks have been sacked more than Tua. He will be thankful that Austin Jackson is still on IR, having been sacked less in Weeks Two and Three combined than Week One when Jackson last played. It is much harder for a defense when two players with that speed come at you than just one.
Xavien Howard, on his day, is Miami’s second-best player, but he has not been his usual self this season, albeit with just three games gone. The 2020 interception leader has not yet gotten a pick in 2022. Despite this, he is tied for fifth in passes defended (4). His absence will still be missed, with Eric Rowe or Kader Kohou likely to take his place should he miss the game.
Should some or all of these players miss the game in Cincinnati, the team will want to keep their momentum going with a win.
Stopping The Bengals’ Offensive Weapons
Miami has the second worst pass defense in the league, with the Bengals in 14th. The Bengals may be 1-2, but they still have quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase. This is not even to mention fellow wideout Tyler Boyd and running back Joe Mixon. This is a brilliant set of offensive weapons, and the old saying goes, form is temporary, and class is permanent. Nothing is ever won or lost in Week Three.
This pass defense must be wary of the threat this offense can cause. They will want to try and get to the one weakness of this Bengals offense, their offensive line. If they can do this, then they have a chance to win.
Compared to the five sacks that Tua has suffered, Burrow is tied with Carson Wentz as the most sacked quarterback in the league. If Miami can get to them between trenches, this will ease the pressure on a struggling pass defense so far, even if it has been against the Bills, Ravens, and New England Patriots.