The Bengals will be playing the Dolphins on short rest Thursday at 8.25 pm in Paul Brown Stadium.
The 1-2 Bengals will face a 1-2 Miami team that has a rookie head coach with high expectations. The Bengals last game against the Dolphins was an overtime loss Halloween night 2013. The Dolphins lead the all time record 16-5 and are 3-1 at Paul Brown Stadium. History aside this is an important game for both teams as they both try and get to .500.
Here are four things to watch as Cincinnati will look to get an important home victory.
The Bengals running game:
The running game has been up and down this year. After a poor start in the first two games it rebounded against the Broncos with a pair of Jeremy Hill touchdowns and the team rushed for a combined 143 yards. Currently the Dolphins are ranked 31st in the league against the rush. If the Bengals can get the running game going it will open things up for the passing attack enabling Dalton to exploit the Dolphins secondary.
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The Bengals defense line:
The Bengals have a talented defense line lead by Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. The lines performance however, has been disappointing so far this year. The team has recorded only four sacks and allowed 2nd year player Trevor Siemian to have an Aaron Rodgers like game on Sunday. The Dolphins have not been able to run only averaging 83 yards a game. If the defense can stop the run and put pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill, it would be a huge help in securing a Bengals victory.
In a short week both teams have a lot of question marks on who will be able to play Thursday. For Cincinnati Tyler Eifert is questionable to return from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined all season. It is doubtful he will play on Thursday but if he did his return would be huge boost for the offense. On the defensive side the Bengals safety Derron Smith and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick both did not practice on Tuesday while safety Shawn Williams was limited.
The Dolphins have 16 players listed on their injury report. Most notably tight end Jordan Cameron and running back Arian Foster. Center Anthony Steen is also out and back up Mike Pouncey did not practice Tuesday. In addition left tackle Branden Albert did not practice. Cincinnati’s defense could have a great game facing a banged up Dolphins offensive line.
The return of Vontaze Burfict:
The Bengals linebacker suspension is over and he will most likely make his 2016 debut Thursday night. Burfict returned to the practice facility on Monday on a roster exemption. The team has three days to decide how to make room for Burfict on the 53 man roster. It is expected that they will release a player to get Burfict back. The linebacker will be a welcome addition to the defense and it would seem likely that Burfict will make an immediate impact.
John Gleespen writes about the Bengals and can be followed on twitter at GleeboBlackHole. Be sure to follow and comment about the Bengals on twitter @Cover_Bengals.