NFL & College Football Bettors:
Miami at Cincinnati (-7.5/8, 44.5/46.5), 8:25 pm ET, CBS/NFLN
From 1971 until well after the turn of this century, the Dolphins owned victories over the Bengals in 12 of 13 meetings. After consecutive wins in 2004 and ’07, the first back-to-back triumphs Cincinnati pulled off against Miami since the late 1960s, this decade has seen three more losses, extending the run to 15 of 18.
Since neither team has won a Super Bowl since ’73, the disparity is strange, complete with a 7-1 run the Dolphins have gone on in Cincy over the last 30 years. The teams meet at Paul Brown Stadium once again on Thursday night with the loser staring a 1-3 start in the mouth. Although the Bengals have reached the playoffs in six of seven years and Miami has made it just once in 15, both have major aspirations and are well aware that a loss here would put them in an early hole.
Inconsistency has reigned for both thus far. Miami was impressive in a near-upset in Seattle in Week 1, rallied to scare New England at Foxboro the next time out and was lucky to survive a potentially embarrassing loss to the lowly Browns in their home opener last week, surviving a game-winning field goal attempt before prevailing in OT.
Cincinnati won its opener at the Jets in a game where it was outplayed before falling to the Steelers and Broncos, both considered top Super Bowl contenders. They were in those contests, but weren’t polished enough to have a key break go their way.
Injuries have been a concern for the Bengals, particularly in the secondary. The Dolphins have had health issues along the offensive line and lost Arian Foster to a groin injury after an impressive Week 1 debut.
As these teams play the NFL’s final September contest, there’s definitely a sense of urgency involved for both. A Miami defense led by handsomely-paid linemen Ndamakong Suh and Cameron Wake was carved up enough that it put itself in danger of suffering a loss at the hands of Cleveland rookie QB Cody Kessler and Terrelle Pryor pulling off the best Kordell Stewart impression pro football has seen since Antwaan Randle El. Meanwhile, Cincinnati hasn’t started with a record as poor as 1-3 since dropping the first eight games of the 2008 season.
Season win total: 7 (Over -110, Under -110)
Odds to win AFC East: 10/1 to 12/1
Odds to win AFC: 25/1 to 40/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 50/1 to 80/1
Season win total: 9.5 (Over -110, Under -110)
Odds to win AFC North: 2/1 to 7/2
Odds to win AFC: 5/1 to 20/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 12/1 to 40/1
Both of these teams have seen their expectations take a hit as MY BOOKIE adjusted its conference and Super Bowl futures and enticed bettors with a bigger playout for backing either team just to win their division, going even further with their AFC and Super Bowl odds. As far as this matchup is concerned, most books set the opening number at Bengals -7 and have adjusted the line to laying 7.5. This is the most points Cincinnati has been over Miami since Oct. 15, 1989 when they also closed -7.5 at home but lost 20-13 when Dan Marino led a comeback from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat the Boomer Esiason-led Bengals. The total remains stuck between 44.5 and 45 at most shops after being available as low as 44 earlier in the week.
The Bengals will get controversial linebacker Vontaze Burfict back, whcih should provide a major boost for the defense. Last time most of us saw Burfict, he was earning himself a three-game suspension after helping lose January”s AFC Wild Card game against rival Pittsburgh with a memorable unnecessary roughness penalty that was compounded by Adam Jones tacking on an additional 15 yards after getting into it with Steelers assistant and former star LB Joey Porter, turning kicker Chris Boswell’s game-winning field goal into a chip shot in an 18-16 loss. Burfict has been credited with 401 tackles in 47 career games and is a difference-maker, often getting into the heads of opposing offensive players since he plays so violently. The Bengals have missed the edge he brings to the table, but are hoping he can leave the unnecessary nonsense behind.
ATTRITION ROCKS PHINS O’LINE
Talented Miami left tackle Branden Albert hurt his ankle and will be a game-time decision for this one. He’s been mentoring rookie Laremy Tunsil, who would be his replacement, but the Dolphins are counting on his experience being a stabilizing factor on the road. Since starting center Mike Pouncey (hip) is out and backup Anthony Steen (ankle) likely won’t play. Veteran Kraig Urbik should start, but the Dolphins were having multiple guys practice snaps during this abbreviated work week. Considering Foster and starting tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion) are also out, QB Ryan Tannehill is going to have to move a patchwork offense, He comes in on a run of four 300-yard passing games over his last five outings.
BENGALS LACKING FIREPOWER
Sndy Dalton threw for 366 yards in each of the first two games against the Jets and Steelers, but was held to just 206 yards passing and no touchdowns last Sunday against the Broncos. He’s been held without a TD pass in consecutive regular-season games only twice in his career, the last time being 2014 (Oct. 19-26). Top tight end Tyler Eifert (ankle) likely won’t play, while A.J. Green’s supprting cast from last year, Marvin Jones and Sanu, are lighting it up elsewhere.
RECENT MEETINGS (Miami 3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS last five; UNDER 4-1)
10/31/13 Miami 22-20 (OT) vs. Cincinnati (CIN -3, 43)
10/7/12 Miami 17-13 at Cincinnati (CIN -3, 45)
10/31/10 Miami 22-14 at Cincinnati (CIN -1, 44)
12/30/07 Cincinnati 38-25 at Miami (CIN -3, 45)
9/19/04 Miami 16-13 at Cincinnati (CIN -5.5, 40)
DOLPHINS AS A ROAD UNDERDOG
Miami’s recent success getting points in Cincinnati has been referenced above, and they come in 1-1 in this situation against the spread despite a pair of road losses this season at Seattle and New England. They were 2-4 SU and ATS getting points on the road last season.
BENGALS AS A HOME FAVORITE
Cincinnati was favored (-3.5) against defending champion Denver last week and hasn’t beaten the number as a favorite in the Jungle since routing the Rams 31-7 as a 9.5-point chalk last season, so they’ll be looking to end a three-game cover drought at home.
We also like Bengals -8 & UConn/Houston Ov 49
Posted Thursday Sept 29th, 2016 @ 3:20p.m. EST