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Bengals vs. Dolphins prediction: Can Fins stay undefeated on Thursday night?

Miami hasn’t lost a game this season, but oddsmakers expect that to change on Thursday against the defending runner-up Bengals.

ACTION NETWORK USE ONLY - Running back Chase Edmonds #2 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after scoring in the fourth quarter of the game against the Buffalo Billsat Hard Rock Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
ACTION NETWORK USE ONLY - Running back Chase Edmonds #2 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after scoring in the fourth quarter of the game against the Buffalo Billsat Hard Rock Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)Read moreMegan Briggs / Getty Images

There are only two undefeated teams left in the NFL after a crazy first three weeks. Oddsmakers don’t expect that to last very long.

The perfect Dolphins are dealing as 4-point underdogs at BetMGM ahead of Thursday’s clash with the Bengals, who have gotten off to a disappointing 1-2 start but still have the confidence of the betting market heading into this one. Will we see yet another upset in store in Week 4?

Here’s how we’re betting Thursday night’s contest, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video.

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Bengals vs. Dolphins Prediction

  1. Dolphins +4 (-110 BetMGM)

Bengals vs. Dolphins Prediction: The analysis

You’d be hard-pressed to find two teams that have gotten off to such drastically different starts relative to expectation than these two.

The Dolphins entered the season as 40/1 title long shots but have since beat the Bills and Ravens – two of the three favorites to emerge from the AFC – en route to an undefeated start. The reigning runner-up Bengals have stumbled to a 1-2 start, losing to the mediocre Steelers and Cowboys before last week’s get-right win over the Jets.

So why, exactly, is Cincinnati the clear favorite here? The Bengals were dealing at this price before the season and were 1.5-point lookahead favorites ahead of last week. Much of that movement is likely due to the uncertain status of Tua Tagovailoa, who is still questionable after suffering myriad injuries in last week’s win over Buffalo.

Until Tagovailoa is ruled out, though, I’ll gladly take the points on one of the best teams in the league.

Don’t believe me? Just look at what the Dolphins have done through the first three weeks of the season. Their offense ranks third in yards per drive (39.2) and second in points per drive (2.8), and Tagovailoa is in the thick of the MVP race as the NFL leader in QBR (82.8) and among the leaders in passing yards (925) and touchdowns (8).

None of this is by accident. When first-year coach Mike McDaniel took over after a successful stint as the 49ers offensive coordinator, he made it clear he’d craft an offense best suited to the skill set of his forgotten QB. Sure enough, Miami has been arguably the league’s most explosive team thanks to Tagovailoa’s deep-ball connection to star wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, who are only the second duo in the Super Bowl era with 300-plus yards each through the first three weeks.

» READ MORE: NFL Week 4 survivor pool picks, predictions: Packers are an easy choice vs. short-handed Patriots

Those two should have a field day against this Bengals defense, which isn’t exactly an elite unit on paper. Sure, they rank near the top of the league by most advanced metrics, but they’ve also faced the likes of Mitch Trubisky, Cooper Rush, and Joe Flacco through three weeks. Good luck maintaining that pace against this electric group, which has forced defenses into an impossible dilemma of leaving Hill or Waddle in one-on-one coverage or getting cooked underneath.

Cincinnati once boasted a similarly explosive offense, and I’d expect that to return at some point. But we simply haven’t seen it thus far, as defenses attack Joe Burrow and co. with two-high safety looks and blanket coverage on star wideout Ja’Marr Chase. The Dolphins are much more comfortable with man coverage thanks to their elite secondary talent, but that often comes with the trade-off of relentless pressure – as evidenced by four sacks last week on Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

The Bengals’ offensive line has already underwhelmed through three weeks even after major additions in the offseason. That’s a terrible sign ahead of this week’s matchup with the Dolphins, who rank third in pass-rush win rate (53%) and will surely force Burrow into uncomfortable spots all night long.

Tagovailoa’s injury is clearly an X-factor, and it’s worth monitoring ahead of Thursday’s kickoff. Unless and until he’s ruled out, I’ll gladly grab the points on the better side here, and I wouldn’t mind playing the ‘dogs even if veteran Teddy Bridgewater is thrust into a starting role. This is just too much value on one of the most impressive teams to this point.

Bengals vs. Dolphins Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Bengals -4 (-110), moneyline -200

  2. Dolphins +4 (-110), moneyline +165

  3. O/U 47 (-110)

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