Miami Dolphins (3-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
The Dolphins began the season 3-0, but then they got blown out 38-7 in New England last week. They lost by so much that they now have a negative -8 point differential on the season and a -0.84% first down rate differential. The Patriots are obviously a tough opponent, but the Dolphins had a pretty easy schedule early in the season and this week they have to go on the road and face another tough opponent in Cincinnati.
The Dolphins’ blowout loss last week cost us some line value with the Bengals, as this line shifted from 3.5 on the early line to 6 this week, but we’re still getting line value with them, as the Dolphins enter this game very banged up. They’ll likely get safety Reshad Jones back from injury this week, but cornerback Bobby McCain and defensive end Cameron Wake, two key defensive players, will sit out, joining rotational defensive ends Andre Branch and WIlliam Hayes and talented guard Josh Sitton on the sidelines. A pretty mediocre roster to begin with, the Dolphins are missing some key pieces.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are getting closer to full strength, with running back Joe Mixon returning from a two game absence and every down linebacker Vontaze Burfict making his season debut, after beginning the season with a 4-game suspension. They lost tight end Tyler Eifert and backup running back Giovani Bernard to injury last week and center Billy Price remains out with a foot injury, but Mixon and Burfict are two of their most important players. The Bengals have been a pretty good team even without them, ranking 6th in first down rate differential at 6.60%. They’re worth a bet at as 6 point favorites at home over a banged up Miami team.
Cincinnati Bengals 30 Miami Dolphins 20
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -6