The Dolphins will get their first prime-time action of the season as they travel to Cincinnati to take on Joe Burrow and the Bengals on Thursday Night Football at 8:15 p.m.. Miami looks to remain undefeated after last week’s gritty win over the Buffalo Bills. With only four days between games, Mike McDaniel and his team must battle with aches and pains from Sunday’s intense battle.
The reigning AFC champions will look to record their second victory of the season after finally entering the win column last week against the New York Jets. Many have credited Cincinnati’s inability to replicate last year’s success to Burrow being unavailable during the preseason due to an appendix rupture. Even so, Miami must be prepared for the Bengals to bring their A-game and prove they are still contenders by beating the only remaining undefeated AFC team.
Here are the three keys to the game:
The role of Miami’s injuries in this game
The Dolphins’ win last Sunday seems to have come at the expense of some players’ health. Miami’s Monday injury report included nine players on the non-participants’ list, most notably Tua Tagovailoa.
On Monday, the NFL Players’ Association launched an investigation into the Dolphins’ handling of the injury the quarterback faced in the first half of the Bills game. The third-year quarterback appeared to have sustained an injury to his head after a late hit by Buffalo’s Matt Milano. The former Alabama standout was forced to exit the game at the time but returned to lead his team to victory after passing concussion protocols.
After the game, McDaniel claimed the injury was to Tagovailoa’s back and not his head. Tagovailoa is now being listed with both a back and ankle injury.
Backup quarterback and South Florida native Teddy Bridgewater entered Sunday’s game in relief of Tagovailoa but failed to complete a pass in his two attempts. He and third-string Skylar Thompson must prepare for the possibility that they will take snaps Thursday in Cinncinati.
Can the Dolphin’s secondary replicate the success against Stefon Diggs with Ja’Marr Chase?
Miami’s defense will be put to the test against one of the league’s top wide receivers for the second consecutive week when they take on second-year star Ja’Marr Chase, who was drafted just before the Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle in 2021.Each young receiver was picked by a team led by their college quarterback.
During Chase’s breakout rookie season,he 22-year-old broke several records en route to Cincinnati’s first playoff appearance since 2015. And the former LSU receiver had an astonishing 25 receptions for 368 yards and a touchdown over the four postseason games he played.
Chase is one of several weapons Miami has to account for onThursday. Both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are quality pass catchers who compliment Chase well in Cincy’s pass-heavy offense. Last week both Higgins and Boyd finished with over 90 yards. And Boyd scored early in the game.
The Dolphins are ranked 31the past st in receiving yards allowed per game. With starting corner Byron Jones still slated to debut in week 5, the defense must put a significant focus on making life difficult for Burrow and his receivers.
Will Miami establish a steady run game?
It feels like we have been asking this question for years, but it continues to be relevant despite the team’s 3-0 start. The Dolphins failed to find consistency on the ground last week, rushing for only 41 yards. While the team has reached this point without any dominant rushing performances, there is little evidence this strategy working in the long term. With Taiglavoa injured andthe quick turnaround, it would be nice to see a 20-25-carry game for Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert. The two running backs have shown they are capable of a heavier workload than they have carried in the first three games.
McDaniel must try to stick with the run game when the plays aren’t providing much yardage. Miami will be able to control the tempo of the game by keeping Cincinnati’s high-powered offense off the field, while keeping its defense rested.
The Dolphins should aim to match or exceed the production of the Bengals’ Joe Mixon, who is one of the most consistent running backs in the league. If they allow Mixon to outrun the team in this game, the result could be disastrous.
This game will be played at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. It will be broadcast through Amazon Prime as a part of the NFL’s new deal with the streaming company.
Anthony Blanco authored the story. Moises Pinell, Alfredo Banegas and Esteban Rodriguez did the Phin Tank video.