Tagovailoa banged up as Dolphins face Bengals in short week

MIAMI (3-0) at CINCINNATI (1-2)

Thursday, 8:15 p.m. EDT, Amazon Prime

OPENING LINE: Bengals by 3 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bengals 1-2-0; Dolphins 3-0-0.

SERIES RECORD: Dolphins lead 18-7.

LAST MEETING: Dolphins beat Bengals 19-7 on Dec. 6, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Florida.

LAST WEEK: Dolphins beat Bills 21-19; Bengals beat Jets 27-12.

DOLPHINS OFFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (31), PASS (4), SCORING (8).

DOLPHINS DEFENSE: OVERALL (31), RUSH (20), PASS (31), SCORING (16).

BENGALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (20), RUSH (20), PASS (14), SCORING (T10).

BENGALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (8), PASS (14), SCORING (T9).

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Dolphins plus-2, Bengals minus-1.

DOLPHINS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Tyreek Hill had seven catches for 78 yards and a touchdown when he and his former team, Kansas City, faced the Bengals in the AFC Championship game. The Bengals won that game, defeating the Chiefs for the second time within a month. Now, with his new team, Hill is among the top receivers in the NFL in receptions (21), yards (317) and receptions of 20 yards or more (six).

BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Joe Burrow. The third-year signal caller had his best game of the season last week. He finished 23 of 36 for 275 yards with TD throws to Samaje Perine, Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase. He seems to have shaken off the rust that accumulated while he recovered from an appendectomy during training camp.

KEY MATCHUP: Dolphins D-line vs. Bengals O-line. After scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins stopped Josh Allen and the Bills from scoring on five snaps from inside the 6, including the last four snaps from inside the 2. The Bengals’ overhauled offensive front is coalescing, allowing only two sacks of Burrow last week after giving up 13 in the first two games.

KEY INJURIES: Dolphins’ Tagovailoa is questionable with a sore back and ankle. Backup Teddy Bridgewater will play if Tagovailoa can’t. … CB Xavien Howard is dealing with a groin injury. … WR Jaylen Waddle also has been bothered by a groin injury but is expected to play. … TE Cethan Carter is out. Bengals DT D.J. Reader will be out for an extended time with a left knee injury. … OT La’el Collins is questionable with a sore back. … RB Joe Mixon didn’t play for much of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game because of a sore ankle, but coach Zac Taylor said he’ll play Thursday.

SERIES NOTES: Miami won nine consecutive meetings from 1978-2000, but since then the series has evened out. Dolphins have a 5-4 edge going back to 2004. The Dolphins have won the past two meetings, in 2019 and ’20 (both in Miami). Miami has won nine of 14 games played in Cincinnati. The one playoff game in series history was an AFC divisional contest, won 34-16 by the Dolphins at the Orange Bowl in 1973.

STATS AND STUFF: Through three weeks, the Dolphins are third in the NFL in yards per play and eighth in points per play. … Miami is averaging just 3.3 rushing yards per carry. Only the Chargers (2.6) average fewer yards per carry through three weeks. … Waddle had 102 receiving yards against Buffalo after getting 171 yards against Baltimore. He’s the first Dolphins player to have back-to-back 100-plus yard receiving games since DeVante Parker in 2019. … S Jevon Holland set career highs in tackles (10) and sacks (1 1/2) against the Bills. … Miami hasn’t won in Cincinnati since Oct. 7, 2012, when the Dolphins beat the Bengals 17-13. … The Dolphins haven’t started the season 4-0 since 1995. Miami is 5-6 on “Thursday Night Football,” but has won five straight prime time games, including “Thursday Night Football” wins in 2020 (at Jacksonville) and 2021 (vs. Baltimore). … Cincinnati scored first and never relinquished the lead in the win over the Jets after falling behind and fighting back to the verge of a win in its two losses. … Cincinnati WR Tyler Boyd caught four of his five targets for 105 yards, including a 56-yard catch-and-run TD last week. … The Bengals have played 16 times previously on Thursday, posting a 9-7 record. … Burrow surpassed 8,000 passing yards in Game 3 at the N.Y. Jets, in his 29th game. He was the third-fastest QB in NFL history to reach that mark.

FANTASY TIP: Boyd sometimes ends up being overshadowed by flashy WRs Chase and Tee Higgins. Last week he paced the Bengals with four catches for 105 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown. Another TD catch was called back because of a holding penalty.

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