Don’t look now, but the Bengals are 3-1 and suddenly have a swagger about them as they get set to entertain the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincy last week took down the Jaguars in Jacksonville, as their run defense, which had been lacking, shut down Maurice Jones-Drew, and their offense did enough to win 27-10.
After getting blown out in their opener, the Bengals have put up 33.0 points during their three-game winning streak that included consecutive road wins.
“The second quarter (of the season) is going to be just as tough, if not tougher,” defensive back Terence Newman said. “The third quarter is going to be tougher than the second, and the fourth is going to be the most difficult. As long as we can maintain and stay healthy I think we’ll definitely be OK.”
The teams turnaround has been led by QB Andy Dalton and wide out A.J. Green, who leads the NFL in yardage through the air.
The Bengals have also gotten it done with a front four led by defensive end Carlos Dunlap, fellow end Michael Johnson and tackle Geno Atkins. The three have combined for 11 of the Bengals’ NFL-leading 17 sacks.
They host a 1-3 Dolphins team that has lost back to back OT games, and last Sunday saw rookie QB Ryan Tannehill throw for 431 yards to break Dan Marino’s franchise rookie record by 99 yards in a loss to the Cardinals.
His only touchdown pass in that contest went for 80 yards to Brian Hartline, who set a club record with 253 receiving yards on 12 catches and leads the NFL with 455 yards through four weeks.
Reggie Bush has rushed for 369 yards to keep the Dolphins competitive offensively, Miami’s defense – which gives up 297.8 passing yards per game (ranked 30th) – might have the biggest challenge trying to stop Green and Dalton.
If the Fins want to stay in this game, they have to stretch the field, and Bush has to keep the chains moving for Miami.
The Bengals will look to do what they have done the last three weeks, which is control the tempo on both the offense and defensive lines.
Look for Miami to hang for a half, but the Bengals will wear them down and win by 10.
Cincinnati 27 Miami 17