Thursday Night Football Betting: Should You Back the Unbeaten Dolphins as Road Underdogs?

The Miami Dolphins, one of the early-season surprises, are leaving the rain-soaked state of Florida with a chance to improve to 4-0 as they go against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football.

Our nERD-based rankings warn us that we shouldn't get too caught up in the records -- which show Cincy at 1-2 and Miami at 3-0. We rank the Dolphins 11th while the Bengals check in 7th.

Let's check out into some interesting betting angles for this contest.

Game Preview and Key Matchups

I am a bit stunned by what I am about to write. Thoughts and prayers, please.

After what many would characterize as a bit of a rocky start to his NFL career, Tua Tagovailoa has been an absolutel baller to start 2022. Through 106 drop backs this season, Tua has been the league's most efficient quarterback, per our metrics, logging a Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back of 0.44. That's the league's best mark by a decent margin as Patrick Mahomes sits second at 0.39 Passing NEP per drop back.

America's favorite cigar-smoking signal caller, Joe Burrow hasn't been quite as adept as Tua this season. His Passing NEP per drop back of 0.00 shows that the Bengals' offensive attack is still spinning their wheels despite a myriad of outstanding weapons that got them to the AFC Conference Championship game a year ago.

Neither team has been good running the football -- the Bengals clock in 26th by our numbers and the Dolphins are a bit better at 15th.

Among backs with 25 or more carries this year, Joe Mixon has been the league's second-least efficient runner, posting a mark of -0.16 Rushing NEP per carry. Miami doesn't have a running back who has recorded 25 carries, but Raheem Mostert does lead the team with 24 totes of the rock and -0.13 Rushing NEP per rush.

Overall, it's an interesting matchup.

According to our per-play metrics, Miami ranks as the league's best offense, whereas the Bengals have the fifth-ranked defense, although Cincy has benefitted from a soft schedule of opposing offenses thus far. Conversely, Cincinnati ranks only 24th in offense while Miami ranks the same 24th on the defensive side of the ball.

Bets to Consider

Despite the difference in records, the home Bengals sit as 3.5-point home favorites as game time approaches this evening. The total is at 48.5 points.

Our projection isn't too far off from those lines as we forecast the Bengals to win by a score of 25.11-22.78.

With the spread, we like the Miami side, and we think the Dolphins cover 55.7% of the time. On the total, we have a slight lean on the under, giving it a 52.5% chance to win out.

Comparing player prop lines to our projections, betting the over on Tagovailoa's passing yards looks like a strong bet.

The signal-caller is expected to play, and as we laid out above, he's been a boss this year. His passing yards props is listed at 252.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook, and it's priced at -110 on both sides. We project Tua for 264.6 passing yards, and he's gone over this line twice this year. Cincy's D just gave up 285 passing yards to Joe Flacco, although Flacco benefitted from a super negative game script

Historic Betting Trends

-- Miami is 10-2 against the spread (ATS) over their last 12 games.
-- The Bengals are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games against AFC opponents, so something has to give.