The Cincinnati Bengals are performing right in line with expectations this season, sitting with a 6-2 record with victories in their last four games. The Miami Dolphins are proving somewhat harder to predict, with some expecting them to break out as a sleeper team and others expecting them to hit a wall early on. They're 3-4 at this point, beating teams like the Indianapolis Colts, yet losing to teams like the Buffalo Bills.
Accordingly, the Bengals have been consistent for bettors, going 5-2 against the spread over their last seven games. This is a stark contrast to the Dolphins, who have only managed to cover just once over their last five games. Their record straight-up over their last five is also 1-4, with all four of the losses coming in a row after beginning the season with a 3-0 mark.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill had two interceptions over the first two games. He has seven now over the past four, and is only averaging 221.9 passing yards per game. They'll face the No. 11 passing defense on Thursday Night Football, but Lamar Miller and the other Miami backs may have more issues dealing with the No. 8 rushing defense in the NFL, as the Bengals allow just 97.3 rushing yards per game.
On paper, the Bengals are just a better team. Andy Dalton is out-performing Tannehill in every stat, and the team has managed some tough wins over its four-game winning streak, including a 13-6 victory over the New England Patriots and a 27-24 win over the Detroit Lions.
But there are some significant trends worth noting that could lead one to betting on Miami. Rather, there are some trends that could make it difficult to bet on Cincinnati. The Bengals have lost 10 of their last 12 games they've played against Miami, and they are 3-9 against the spread against the Dolphins since 1980.
"This seems like a good bounce spot for Miami after a couple of depressing losses, and they have owned this matchup since 1980," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com.
The line for the matchup opened with the Dolphins favored by a single point, but as the week progressed, it shifted in favor of Cincinnati. Most of the top books settled on Cincinnati being favored by three points. The home-field advantage definitely had to play a part in Miami opening as the favored squad, but the trends above certainly didn't hurt.
The over/under for the matchup opened at and is still at 43 points on most books. The Bengals have had the total go over in four of their last six games, while the same has been true in five of Miami's last six. There's one poor defense and one pretty decent defense at play in this game, so the over does seem like a smart play at this point.
Cincinnati just has more ways to win. They're a much more stable team, they have more weapons on offense and more play-makers on defense, and there's a decided lack of questioning of the coaching staff, unlike the constant controversy we've been treated to with Miami and their offense.