Thursday Night Football best bets: Dolphins at Bengals


Week 4 of the 2022 NFL season kicks off with Dolphins-Bengals on Thursday night.

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Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for our best bets for the rest of Week 4 as we get closer to kickoff.

Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night.

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5, 47.5) 

Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET

Josh Appelbaum: The Bengals opened as 3-point home favorites and moved to -4 before some Dolphins buyback Wednesday night brought the line down to 3.5. A 1-point or half-point line move toward a home favorite isn’t eye-popping. However, when a home favorite is unpopular and still sees line movement in its favor, that is notable. 

Currently, 65% of bets at DraftKings are taking the Dolphins plus the points. Normally when a dog is receiving two-thirds of bets, you can expect them to fall from %plussign% 3 to %plussign% 2.5 or %plussign% 2. But the exact opposite happened here. Why are the books handing out an additional point or half point to Dolphins bettors when the public is already hammering them? 

If it looks too good to be true, it typically is. This looks like a classic “fade the trendy dog” system play. I’ll lay the points with the Bengals, who enjoy rare buy-low value as a contrarian home favorite with reverse line movement in a primetime game.

Pick: Bengals -3.5

Dave Tuley: We get another intriguing Thursday night matchup with the Dolphins (one of only two undefeated teams left along with the Eagles) visiting the Bengals, who finally got in the win column with their 27-12 win at the Jets on Sunday. 

The advance line on this game was Bengals -2 and was bet to -2.5 and then -3 on Sunday night (it fell from -4 to -3.5 late Wednesday). The early movement was due to reports that Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa might have suffered a concussion in Sunday’s win over the Bills and might not be available (with the quick turnaround and travel) for the Thursday nighter. 

But Tagovailoa says he’s going to play, and if that’s the case, we have to like the inflated price on the Dolphins again (last week, we loved the Dolphins at %plussign% 6 against the Bills, who many people were putting in the Super Bowl already). The Dolphins defense allowed only 19 points against the Bills, and if it could contain Josh Allen, it has a good chance of shutting down Joe Burrow, who has been sacked 15 times in three games.

Pick: Dolphins %plussign% 3.5

Adam Burke: Cincinnati’s problems on the offensive line are not limited to the protection of Joe Burrow. The Bengals are tied for eighth in rushing attempts but rank 20th in rushing yards. They’re not opening holes for Joe Mixon, who has 2.8 yards per carry on the season. Mixon has had enough of a workload to be able to produce some high-yardage totals, but he has managed 3.04, 3.00 and 2.00 yards per carry in three games against pretty pedestrian defenses.

The Dolphins have allowed five yards per carry but have also faced Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen, mobile quarterbacks who have done damage to their rush-defense numbers. The Dolphins have allowed 166 yards on 19 attempts to quarterbacks (8.7 YPC) but only have 168 yards on 46 attempts to running backs (3.7).

With Cincinnati’s O-line woes, it should be another lackluster day for Mixon. With the Bengals’ wide receiver weapons, Zac Taylor doesn’t have a lot of incentive to run the ball unless his team has a late lead. If that’s the case, the Dolphins will stack the box against a bad offensive line.

Pick: Joe Mixon Under 63.5 Rushing Yards (-115)

Danny Burke: Miami’s offense has been a revelation so far. Defense, however, is where the Dolphins’ issues reside. 

Miami ranks 24th in overall DVOA defense and 27th in yards per play allowed (6.2). The team is also surrendering 10.6 yards per pass completion and ranks 29th in DVOA pass defense. What does this add up to? Joe Burrow letting it fly. 

Zac Taylor understands these weaknesses and will look to expose them. In terms of target share compared to player prop value, the player that stands out is Joe Mixon. 

Mixon is no stranger to the passing game. He’s averaging 34.3 receiving yards on 6.7 targets per game this season. The lowest number I found on his receiving yards prop was 18.5, and that’s the pick in this game. 

Last week alone, the Dolphins let three Bills running backs get over that mark. Miami is allowing opposing running backs 6.7 receptions for 52 receiving yards per game. Burrow is more than comfortable playing dink-and-dunk with Mixon, who knows how to make the most of those opportunities. And there should be plenty of them, considering the Dolphins’ main focus on defense will be covering the three-headed monster of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. That leaves plenty of space for Mixon to make some moves in the short passing game and go Over 18.5 receiving yards, a number he has eclipsed in two out of three games thus far. 

Play: Joe Mixon Over 18.5 Receiving Yards (-117)