Just like that, we have had three weeks of the 2022 NFL season. While it hasn’t been short of drama, it has been surprisingly low on points and this seasons points per game of 42 would be the lowest since 2006 if it was to continue for the full season.
The drop in scoring was particularly evident in Week 3, where there were 650 points across the 16 games, down from the bookies projection of 722. This works out at 4.5 points per game under the projection, so definitely something to bear in mind when looking at game totals over the next few weeks.
Week 4 does have some interesting matchups, including this weeks Thursday Night Football, so hopefully the offenses start to pick up moving forward.
Miami Dolphins +3.5 @ Bengals: 48.5
On paper this looks an exciting game with last seasons AFC Champs taking on the current conference leaders. It should also be the first time that the top two quarterbacks from the 2020 draft face off in the NFL. Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa last faced each other for LSU and Alabama where they combined for seven touchdowns in a game that also featured their NFL teammates Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle.
The QB’s and their teams have had contrasting starts to this season with the Bengals still shaking off that Super Bowl loss. The Dolphins are the surprise package of the season so far, starting 3-0 for the first time since 2018. They are facing an uphill battle in this game though with injuries and a hurricane to contend with.
The most impressive part of the Dolphins 3-0 start of the season is the different ways in which they have been able to win games. It was comfortable for them against the Patriots in Week 1 but since then they’ve had that big comeback win over the Ravens and then held on in a tight game against the heavily favoured Bills last week, despite that “butt punt”.
It looks as though Tua is going to be fit to play in this game but that is worth keeping an eye on. He is averaging 308 passing yards per game this season which is a vast improvement on last year, albeit in a limited sample of games. Depending on where you look you can find his line at 252.5 or 256.5 in this game and were it not for the injury concern I would be leaning on the over.
A big reason for Tua’s improvement is the addition of Tyreek Hill, who alongside Jayden Waddle has formed one of the best receiver duos in the league. They sit at number two and three in receiving yards heading into Week 4. Waddle is questionable for this game as well, but if he suits up I like him to hit the over on 66.5 receiving yards. Hill is set a little higher at 71.5 but I think he is a bit more volatile so I’d wait on the Waddle news.
Because the passing game has been so good, the Dolphins haven’t really had to run the ball consistently and so the roles for Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds aren’t all that clear. Over the last two games Mostert has had 19 carries to Edmonds’ 11 but neither have really looked good. I think I would look at Mostert to hit the under on his line which you can get at 39.5.
Cincinnati will obviously be disappointed with a 1-2 start to the season, especially when you consider the losses were to teams quarterbacked by Mitchell Trubisky and Cooper Rush. But the issue hasn’t been with who the other team’s quarterback is, it’s been with whether or not they have been able to protect their own. In Week 3’s win against the Jets Burrow was sacked twice which is a big improvement from the 13 across the first two weeks.
Opposing defenses seem to have figured Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase out to the start the season and we are yet to really see the explosiveness that was a feature of last year’s playoff run. Last week was a get right game to some degree for the offense but Chase still only ended with 29 yards.
I think there is some uncertainty still heading into this game with the Dolphins likely to setup a better scheme than the Jets and so I am probably steering clear of the passing game, at least when it comes to yards. But in case you’re interested, Higgins is set at 64.5 and Chase is between 71.5 and 75.5. I do like the chances of Higgins touchdown at 13/8 though and would also take a look at Burrow’s longest rush to be under 8.5 yards.
On the ground, Joe Mixon has also started slow, averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. He should have a good chance to improve on that tonight though against a Dolphins defense that is giving up five per carry so far. His rushing line is around 65 but I would avoid that and maybe look at the scrimmage yards line which is 90.5.
The Dolphins are obviously the form team in the AFC but a combination of factors has the Bengals as favourites in this one. Injuries to Tua and Waddle has obviously meant movement in favour of the Bengals over the last few days and the Dolphins have had a less than ideal preparation to the game with the hurricane in Florida. So I think that, added to the dramatic nature of the Dolphins wins over the last couple of weeks, is going to take its toll and it should be a Bengals win.
I was going to take the over on 48.5 but given it’s a Thursday game and with the way this season has gone so far, combined with the recent trend of the Bengals games hitting the under, I think I will avoid.
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