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Bengals vs Dolphins: NFL Week 3 preseason preview

The Cincinnati Bengals will host the Miami Dolphins in each team’s preseason finale on Sunday. All eyes will be on the quarterbacks to see how each youngster has progressed and whether Joe Burrow actually suits up for Cincinnati. Below, we provide you with out game preview.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Miami Dolphins: What you need to know

Joe Burrow vs Tua Tagovailoa

bengals vs dolphins: joe burrow
Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Tua Tagovailoa was tremendous in Miami’s blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons last week, completing 16-of-23 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. Preseason or not, it was the sophomore quarterback’s best performance in the pros.

On the other hand, Joe Burrow sat out the Bengals loss to Washington. He’s still recovering from the torn ACL suffered as a rookie last season, and there was no reason to play him. The hope here is that Burrow gets some reps in Cincinnati’s preseason finale.

  • Tagovailoa’s team: After an offseason filled with speculation about a potential Deshaun Watson trade, Tua now finds himself as the face of the Dolphins’ organization. How the young quarterback performs this season will play a major role in Miami’s playoff aspirations.
  • Joey B looking to take that next step: Prior to going down with that aforementioned injury, Burrow had tallied 2,688 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions in 10 starts as a rookie. Now that Cincinnati has added more weapons for the talented young signal caller, it’s all about taking that next step. There’s no reason to believe that the 24-year-old signal caller won’t be up to the task.

Advantage: Miami Dolphins

Find out where the Dolphins and Bengals stand in our most-recent NFL power rankings

Miami Dolphins running backs vs Cincinnati Bengals defensive front

bengals vs dolphins preview
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Free-agent signing Malcolm Brown saw the most action for Miami last week, registering 43 yards on 10 rush attempts. Presumed starter Myles Gaskin gained 27 yards on six attempts. The moral of the story? Miami is going with a running back by committee approach.

For Cincinnati, one of its biggest downfalls a season ago was stopping the run. Opposing teams went for an average of 148 yards per game at a clip of 5.1 yards per rush. Some reinforcements in this area could help Zac Taylor’s squad in 2021.

  • Finding balance in South Beach: As much as Miami might be high on Tua, it will need this unheralded group of running backs to step up if the team hopes to make the playoffs. Whether it’s Brown, Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed, someone must take that next step.
  • D.J. Reader and Bengals reinforcements: A full-time starter during his four seasons with the Texans, Reader played just five games last year in Cincinnati. He’s going to be a major component if the Bengals want to improve their run defense.

Advantage: Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals offensive line vs Miami Dolphins pass rushers

bengals vs dolphins
Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Needless to say, pass protection in front of Burrow is going to be a big deal for Cincinnati once Week 1 comes calling. He was sacked 32 times in 10 games last season. That’s not great.

As for Miami, it doesn’t have that elite-level pass rusher to help what promises to be one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Should someone step up, this unit could end up being top-five.

  • Protecting the franchise: Cincinnati made a rare foray into free agency, signing veteran right tackle Riley Reiff. He’ll pair with former first-round pick Jonah Williams as Burrow’s primary protectors. How they perform will play a major role in whether Burrow finds himself upright more often than not in 2021.
  • It’s all about Christian Wilkins: The No. 13 overall pick back in 2019, Wilkins has registered a mere seven quarterback hits and 3.5 sacks in two seasons. He needs to produce at a higher clip to help the likes of Jerome Baker and Emmanuel Ogbah.

Advantage: Miami Dolphins

Bottom line: This Bengals vs Dolphins preseason finale should give us a glimpse of what to expect during the regular season. That’s particularly true for a Fins team with playoff aspirations. Meanwhile, 2021 is make-or-break for Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.