Dolphins @ Cincinnati
One thing we know for sure at this point is that the Dolphins are really bad at running the ball. Their total rushing yards for last three games go 64, 70, and 115. The last number was against the Browns defense and they played the overtime. They even used four different RBs in their last game just to see if any of their running back can actually carry the ball. Who activates four mediocre tailbacks just to test them out when they don't even execute enough rushing plays (61 rushing attempts of the Dolphins are 5th lowest in the league)? My guess would be that they didn't think very highly of the Browns, so they probably thought they can get away with such little mismanagement. Well, that plan obviously almost backfired until the Browns missed their last minute field goal. They survived, but the game only proved that none of these running back can run behind this O-line, and Tannehill is just the younger version of Jay Cutler, a mediocre franchise QB with too many bad habits, but who flashes once in a while just enough to keep the job and the money.
This is a perfect chance for the Bengals defense to bounce back. After allowing 276 rushing yards in their first two games, they came up with a unique game plan to stop the excellent run game of the Broncos (using 8-men in the box), which only let Trevor Siemien to prove himself. Well, it's a good thing that the Dolphins are no Broncos, and the Bengals don't need any gimmick to defend this team. There won't be any special 8-men box scheme this week, and the Dolphins will try to run the ball. This is a very interesting matchup to observe what happens when both teams' weaknesses collide head to head. Tannehill will operate with little more room if Dre Kirkpatrick indeed sits, but the mistake-prone QB's night won't be an easy one with lower pass-volume to be expected.
This could be a very fun night for the Bengals offense. So far three games into the season, the Dolphins didn't do anything to stop the opposing offense yet. They allowed 1245 total yards, 5th highest in the league, with 442 yards on the ground (2nd highest). The opponents have been simply pounding them with whooping 34 rushing attempts per game. This defense even turned the journeyman Terrelle Pryor into a deadly all-purpose weapon (35 passing, 21 rushing, and 144 receiving yards, with 2 TDs), and there is no way they do anything to stop the superior talents of the Bengals' skill players. Moreover, if we remember correctly, while the Dolphins' past schedule wasn't the easiest on paper, they faced hobbling Russell Wilson, half game of Jacoby Brissett, and Cody Kessler. Can Andy Dalton be better than any of those QBs? Absolutely. If you have any Bengals player on your roster, feel free to fire them up and enjoy the Thursday night.
Jeremy Hill: 100 yards, 2 TD
2 TDs can be a little stretch, but this week's Bengals backfield belongs to Hill. The Dolphins aren't good enough to force many third downs, and the Bengals are most likely to control the lead in this game. The Dolphins defense also committed 28 penalties (2nd most), so expect a lot of pass interference calls on Dalton's canon throws, which will let Hill to have more than enough Red Zone opportunities. Hill is the best bet to score multi-TD in this game and he is a must-start, especially after his 97 yards, 2 TD performance against the Broncos last week.
A.J. Green: 100 yards, 4 rec, 1 TD
Dalton won't be afraid to chug some deep balls in this game. While the Bengals will execute a run-oriented scheme, Green can surely create some highlight reels. Can't expect the high volume, but Green's big play ability will be on the full display.
Jarvis Landry: 80 yards, 8 rec
The most trusted target of Tannehill will see a plenty of volume especially with Jordan Cameron out. It's very likely that the Dolphins will have hard time moving the ball, so they desperately need to find Landry and let him do some dirty works. Dre Kirkpatrick is also listed doubtful, so Landry will at least have some breathing room, and the garbage time can also be golden.
Jay Ajayi: 60 yards, 2 rec, 1 TD
This backfield is a mess. As a team, they don't run the ball well, and they also rotate FOUR RBs. At least they will see little spike in the usage against the Bengals' below average run defense, and while we have no idea who would start this game, Ajayi got most of the calls during the crucial late game moments last week. Kenyan Drake failed to separate himself, and Ajayi is the most trusted back for now. We can't expect any eye-popping performance, but he can at least have a relatively solid night.
Andy Dalton: 250 passing yards, 2 TD
Dalton will have a lot of fun running his offense tonight, but he won't be asked to do much. He will be extremely efficient with a low risk of TO, but his expected low passing volume won't make him the must start QB1.
Ryan Tannehill: 250 yard, 2 TD, 2 INT
Tannehill can't really be trusted in any week, but he is especially tough one to play tonight. The Dolphins will try to run the ball first (they are expected to activate four RBs once again, so we better see them running more), and if they succeed, he won't be needed. If they don't (the more likely scenario), he has to start forcing the plays, and we have seen numerous times him making crucial mistakes under the pressure. We will definitely see his TO tonight, and even the garbage time will only increase the likelihood of him choking.
Giovani Bernard: 40 yards, 4 rep
Last week, we saw what happened to Bernard when Hill can run the ball without any problem. He may play fine, but he isn't going to get enough calls.