3 Things to Watch – Miami

Carl Lawson

It will be 24 days since the Bengals last played at Paul Brown Stadium. That Thursday Night Football game featured the Bengals roaring past the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2.

With six of the next eight games at home, the Bengals possess a unique opportunity to separate themselves in the AFC North. 

It all begins in a matchup between a pair of 3-1 teams as Cincinnati hosts Miami on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Fans may purchase tickets through the Bengals Ticket Hotline at (513) 621-8383, online at Bengals.com or by visiting the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office. 

For those who purchase individual game tickets on Bengals.com or the Bengals app will not be subject to additional processing fees when they choose mobile tickets as the delivery option.

Here are three things to watch:

1. The Third Down Blues – One area both teams will need to improve upon is third down defense. Atlanta's offense dominated statistically against the Bengals in just about every category, but was particularly effective on third down, converting 11 of 15 times.

The Bengals are last in the NFL allowing opponents to convert 57.4 percent of its third downs. The Dolphins aren't much better on third down ranking 30th with teams converting 50 percent of the time. 

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill continues to play at a highly efficient level ranking seventh in the NFL with a 69.1 completion percentage and fifth in touchdowns per pass attempt at 7.4. With five different receivers having 10 or more receptions on the year, Tannehill does a nice job of distributing the ball quickly and accurately.

2. Ramp Up The Pressure – Similar to the Atlanta game where the Bengals defensive line turned up the intensity, Teryl Austin's crew will need to do the same against a makeshift Miami offensive unit. The Dolphins lost starting center Daniel Kilgore for the season following triceps tear. Left guard Josh Sitton is also out after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

That presents a window of opportunity for Geno Atkins, the team leader in sacks with four, to create havoc. The Bengals are 3-0 this season when he has at least one sack. He will have plenty of help with Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap also playing at a high level. Dunlap is right behind Atkins with three sacks and Lawson broke out with his first sack of the season at Atlanta.

3. Put Up The Points – Since 2011, the rookie season of both QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green, the Bengals own a 43-1-2 record (.957) when scoring 25 or more points. Only Miami has a better winning percentage, at .968 (30-1-0), when topping the 25-point mark over that span.

This season one of the keys to Miami's success has been finishing strong late in games. Dolphins have scored 38 points in the fourth quarter of their four games, which is tied for the third-best mark in the league.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati ranks fourth in scoring offense (31.5 ppg) and leads the NFL in red zone offense at 84.6 percent. Part of the reason for the influx of offense has been Andy Dalton's ability to push the ball downfield. If the season ended today his 65.6 completion percentage would be the second-best in his career. He has also been sacked only 4.3 percent of the time, also second-best in his career.

Game Coverage

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on CBS. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Kevin Harlan (play-byplay), Rich Gannon (analyst) and Steve Tasker (sideline reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

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