This week, we have barely recovered from the soap opera of a game vs. the Browns. Next up is an early road Thursday night game as the Miami Dolphins take on the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Hopefully, this doesn't result in another post-game press conference showcased by a surly and somewhat scowling head coach Adam Gase. If he gives another one of those, he might throw in speaking through gritted teeth, just for good measure.
We're not here for the NASCAR-type indoor kart racing, Yeatman's Cove or the anything-or-all Cincinnati chili. We're having a short week, not mentioning abbreviated film, practice and travel times. It's Thursday Night PrimeTime with a team that's always a tough play at home. Across most betting boards and Vegas, the lines are almost unanimously against us, favoring the Bengals by a touchdown. We need to earn respect and redemption after last week's skin-of-our-fin's escape. Let's ball:
-Credibility: No NFL critic is faulting the Bengals for losing at home vs. a traveling Broncos team, headlined by Von Miller & Friends, defensively. Conversely, our bare victory against the Browns leaves much to be desired in our ever-continuing quest to return to wild-card or playoff contention, at least. A win here should put us on solid footing again;
-Middle Field Blues: The Bengals' rushing game is not supposed to be grounds for major concern. Bengals RBs Giovani Bernard & Jeremy Hill still haven't paced 2015 accomplishments to date. Their middle/ground dual-threat TE Tyler Eifert has been listed as doubtful against us. This should be prime occasion for us to make Bengals QB Andy Dalton one-dimensional. That works if DT Ndamukong Suh & DE Cameron Wake collapse Dalton's pocket fast. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph should play Wake more than situational defensive football, especially at his salary;
-Paper Tigers: er . . . Bengals: Despite our unsettled rushing issues, the return of Bengal's LB Vontaze Burfict after a season-opening suspension may be a slow start to fixing their 30-yard ground yardage differential with and without VB. We need to take advantage of his scheduled return re: he might not be in football shape just yet;
-ShowTime; Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker & Kenny Stills & Jakeem Grant should make this an even night for Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill to distribute the ball middle-to-deep yardage. Bengals' defense has zone tendencies. Also, take advantage with our RBs because of their almost-lowest rank rushing defense; -Kryptonite? While Bengals RT Cedric Ogbuehi is learning his way at the position, let's use his current inexperience to our advantage. Film crew, roll Vonn Miller vs. Ogbuehi. Joseph, please use Wake in the same way.
Thus, hurrying Dalton into either incomplete passes, or playing catch with the sidelines all night long. Maybe we steal our first pick-six of the season. In no uncertain terms, despite a short, road game, this is winnable. 'Phins, let's avoid internal drama and make some noise. We leave Paul Brown Stadium with a victory by a field goal or a two-point conversion. Please not another one of Gase's angry and victorious press conferences.