The Cincinnati Bengals will be looking for redemption again. This time, it comes in the form of the Miami Dolphins. It’s an early must-win game.
The Cincinnati Bengals are in the primetime slot again. Once more, the stakes are high. The Miami Dolphins will battle the Bengals in a Thursday Night Football Color Rush matchup. Contrary to what most Cincinnati fans may think, the game is a must-win scenario for both teams. This won’t be a runaway contest for the home team. Miami has to prove they’re turning things around. The action will be fast and competitive.
After a Week 3 disappointment against the Broncos, Cincinnati will need a solid game to convince football purists they matter. Until the second half, the Bengals were trading blows with the Super Bowl champs. The letdown came after inconsistent play calling became the norm. Instead of playing to win, suddenly, the Bengals were playing not to lose.
Thursday’s clash with the Phins will be a true test. The Bengals defensive players have already shouldered the loss to Denver and should be fired up.
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The pressure of a loaded schedule is coming to an end. But, that doesn’t mean the Bengals can become slackers. Each game will be the opponent’s chance to make Cincinnati look hopeless. Let’s take a look at three keys for a Bengals win.
Protect The Rifle
Andy Dalton is an important cog in the offense. Having him on his back or getting harassed is not going to win games. Since the Week 1 implosion against the Jets, the offensive line has started to gel. The O-line is learning to play together. Of course, that will take some time. But, that’s the one element the Bengals really don’t have: time.
Giving Dalton valuable seconds to throw may not be as simple as just making some shifts. But, that’s what has to get done. When this massive line comes together to protect the pocket and create holes, Cincinnati will be unstoppable.
Last week, the running game finally made its debut on the Queen City shores. Jeremy Hill was able to shred the vaunted Denver D for 97 yards. Usually, the spells a win for the Orange and Black. But, for reasons unknown, Ken Zampese moved away from the run.
We get it. Zampese is a fresh, new coordinator. He has to get a feel for the way Andy likes to call a game. Zampese also has to understand what it’s like to be under stress while calling plays. While Hue Jackson was the coordinator, he was able to stand by and learn. Now, things are different. He has to adjust on the fly.
A one-two punch with Giovani Bernard and Hill could breathe life into the offense. Constructing a balanced game plan with power running schemes will work against the Dolphins.
He’s back (in Poltergeist voice). Vontaze Burfict is done with his suspension. His return couldn’t come at a better time. Cincy is playing under the bright lights and it’s time for some passion. Weeks 2 and 3 produced a Cincinnati defense that lacked the attitude of last year. Marvin Lewis has been preaching composure and keeping a cool head.
With Burfict back, the fire and intensity should return. Love him or hate him, Burfict is a throwback. But, his football IQ is second-to-none. He’ll be able to get players in their spots and call the game the way Bengals faithful have become accustomed.