By Conor Perrett
In the highly anticipated debut of the Bengals new alternative uniforms, they are white and black, supposedly to represent a white tiger, they have to welcome one of the two remaining undefeated teams: the Miami Dolphins. On what on paper is a top-10 defence versus a top-10 offence, it is sure to be a show of fireworks at the Paycor Stadium.
Some might call him “Joey Amazing”, “Joey Ice” or “Joey Brrrrr” but when asked the question last year at the Super Bowl media, Joe Burrows simply prefers to go by Joe.
Last year the former first overall pick in 2020 showed why he deserved that status, when he took the Cincinnati Bengals to their first ever Super Bowl appearance in many years.
Granted they would ultimately fall to the Los Angeles Rams, but there was no shame in what that team accomplished after the turnaround they have had in just a couple of years since his arrival.
That meant going into this year, expectations were going to be higher and teams knew what they were coming up against. Well, through the first two weeks that seemed to be a problem, as they had disappointing losses to the Steelers and Cowboys.
The strong, aggressive defence that we saw last year remains and looks to be itself, but the explosive offence that they were known for faded the first couple of weeks. They would start games slow and not attack the ball downfield, like we had seen through the whole of last year with Burrows routinely finding Jamar Chase.
Last week against the Jets, they looked like their old selves again. Burrows had 56 and 44 yard touchdowns to Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Granted it was against a weak New York Jets side, but we got to see that the Bengals are still capable of the show they put on for us last year and they’re not the scared timid side of Week 1 and Week 2.
This Miami side are on the highest of highs after a amazing coverback win from behind against Lamar Jackson in Week 2, that they then followed up by taking on an MVP candidate in quarterback Josh Allen in a sluggish, but gritty win. Right now this Miami defence is explosive, even more than we could have imagined when Mike McDaniels took over earlier in the year.
Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle are the best receiving duo in the league so far. They have lighting speed to take the top off the defence, and they strike fear the moment they step on. Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds from the running back position are both offering more than expected in the rush and pass attack as well. While the main man Tua Tagovailoa is looking like the old Alabama prodigy after finding all these weapons everywhere.
With the health of Tua in question for this prime time event, they meet no pushovers on defence. While statistically the Bills last week looked a meaner matchup for this high octane offence, they were missing a few key pieces. Now they have to face the Tigers in their jungle, who were a key reason the Bengals reached the summit of NFL games last year. Coming off a short week is never easy, especially when your starting quarterback status is in question.
Even with the Bengals performances so far, this game looks to be an absolute cracker. Both offences have the potential to hit each other with big blows with what they possess. There are great weapons all over and the matchup between the Cincinnati’s’ defence and Miami’s offence will be a must see. If Tua is healthy come game time, we will have a back and forth shootout on our hands.
I’ve been impressed with the Bengals defence so far and think on the defensive line in particular, they will cause problems for a Miami offensive line, which is still getting used to one another.
While on paper with what we’ve seen so far, this Dolphins side has been more impressive, holding an undefeated record even while facing the Bills and Ravens. But with the Hurricane events going on right now in Florida, it’s easy to forget these players are people too and the preparation towards this game will have been different. Along with the uncertainty of Tua, I think there are sides that point towards the home side edging it on prime time.
Dolphins 23, Bengals 24