The Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) will play a season-defining game against the Miami Dolphins (1-2) on Thursday night. And by “season-defining,” we mean “must-win.”
The Bengals, who opened the year with a 23-22 road win over the Jets, have lost each of their last two games: 24-16 at Pittsburgh and 29-17 against Denver.
Tonight’s primary goal: Score more points than the opposition. Tonight’s second goal: Score more points in general. The Bengals rank 25th in the league in scoring offense (18.7 points per game) and are in danger of falling to 1-3 on the season.
So, what can we expect from Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and others tonight?
“Well, I still believe they have a lot of talent,” Hall of Fame offensive lineman Anthony Munoz said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “If they don’t get rolling tonight, (it’ll be surprising). It’s a national TV game at home. The stadium should be packed. (It’ll) be similar to what they had Sunday against Denver. Denver did a heck of a job in all aspects of the game. I think this is an opportunity for this team to rebound and play the way they’re capable of playing. They started the game running the football extremely well, which they hadn’t done the previous couple weeks. But then they lacked in the passing game. The pass defense was not there. So I think this is a big game tonight for the Bengals at home.”
The Bengals will welcome Vontaze Burfict back into the fold Thursday. The linebacker was suspended for the first three games of the season after a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Antonio Brown in the Bengals’ 18-16 Wild Card loss to the Steelers in January.
How much Burfict plays – or how effective he’ll be – remains to be seen.
“Anytime you miss that much action, (it’s tough),” Munoz said. “He didn’t play any preseason. It wasn’t like he had preseason action and then he missed the first three weeks and he’s going to work back into it. He’s starting from ground zero, even though he’s a veteran. So you can expect some (good things), but I don’t think you can expect to see the Vontaze Burfict that you’re used to seeing out there on the football field.”
Kickoff is at 8:25 p.m. ET.