The Cincinnati Bengals had to know this season would come with plenty of challenges. That’s practically a prerequisite for a team whose last game of the previous season was the Super Bowl.
At 1-2, the defending AFC champions – 23-20 losers to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI – have stumbled out of the blocks. The Bengals’ situation doesn’t get any easier on Thursday night, when they will face undefeated Miami (3-0) at Paycor Stadium.
Despite the Dolphins entering the contest as an emerging force in the AFC after upsetting Buffalo 21-19 on Sunday, the online mobile sportsbooks favor the Bengals, who will unveil their “White Bengal” helmets and uniforms in this Week 4 contest.
Once upon a time… pic.twitter.com/fRr5Fnx1bW
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) July 26, 2022
Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, and BetRivers have the Bengals as 4-point favorites and the over/under at 47 points. Caesars has the moneyline at -210 for Cincinnati and +175 for Miami, while BetMGM has the moneyline at -200 for the Bengals and +165 for the Dolphins. FanDuel has Cincinnati as 3.5-point favorites and the over/under at 46.5 points, while offering the moneyline at -198 for Cincinnati and +166 for Miami, which left early Wednesday for Cincinnati due to Hurricane Ian.
Bettors should closely monitor Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s playing status as kickoff approaches, however, as he’s dealing with multiple nagging injuries. Should Miami be forced to start backup Teddy Bridgewater, the line could move even further in the Bengals’ direction.
FanDuel has odds of +440 on Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon to score two or more touchdowns. In that same prop market, Bengals wideout Ja’Marr Chase is listed with odds of +650 to score two or more TDs, while wideout Tyreek Hill has the best odds among the Dolphins to score two or more TDs at +800.
Of course, Ohioans looking to place a wager on the game must travel outside the state until mobile sports betting is launched in Ohio on Jan. 1, 2023.
Bengals eyeing win streak
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Bengals finally scored a victory when they went on the road and defeated the New York Jets 27-12. They’ll have a chance to make it two in a row with a strong effort against the Dolphins, but losses to Pittsburgh (23-20) and Dallas (20-17) to start the season have made it clear that every week will present another hard-fought matchup.
“Last year we knew what we had and how good we could become, but I don’t think anybody else expected that, whether it was [the public] or other teams,” said Cincinnati defensive end Sam Hubbard, according to NFL.com. “This year, you’ve got teams giving their best shot to a team that made it to the Super Bowl. Everybody expects us to go 17-0 and go straight back to the Super Bowl again, but it’s football. There’s a lot of adversity that comes with this.”
— Bengals Fans (@BengalsViews) September 28, 2022
The win on the road over the Jets could help the Bengals get on track. They performed well against a New York team that was riding a wave of momentum after pulling off a thrilling 31-30 road victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Cincinnati jumped out to a 20-9 halftime lead against New York and never looked back, with Joe Burrow and the offense putting together their best effort of the season. Burrow completed 23 of 36 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. The fact that he was sacked only twice was a sign that the Bengals’ offense may be heading in the right direction, as Burrow had been hurried and hit much more than the Bengals would have liked in the two defeats.
Tyler Boyd, Samaje Perine, and Chase each caught a touchdown pass against the Jets. Boyd caught four passes for a team-best 105 yards, while Tee Higgins accounted for five receptions for 93 yards.
Defensively, Cincinnati made things miserable for Jets quarterback Joe Flacco, forcing him into four turnovers. Flacco threw two interceptions and fumbled three times, with the Jets losing two of those cough-ups.
Dolphins suddenly on the rise
First-year Miami coach Mike McDaniel has the Dolphins in the surprising position of being undefeated after three weeks.
The Dolphins took sole possession of first place in the AFC East by knocking off the Buffalo Bills 21-19 on Sunday. Tagovailoa passed for only 186 yards by completing 13 of 18 passes, but he played turnover-free football while connecting for an 11-yard touchdown pass to River Cracraft. Tagovailoa has two of the fastest receivers in the league to throw to in Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the latter of whom had four catches for 102 yards against Buffalo.
Burrow will be going up against a bend-don’t-break Dolphins defense. How he handles it will go a long way toward determining if the “White Bengal” look has the makings of a lucky charm.
Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran/USA TODAY