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Key Matchups: Cincinnati Bengals vs Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football

Cincinnati hosts Miami on Thursday night.

The Bengals and Dolphins have a quick turnaround in Week 4 as the stage is set for Thursday Night Football.

Cincinnati picked up their first win of the season last week. Joe Burrow and the offense showed glimpses of the potential of 'what could be' with big plays and time in the pocket. The team never trailed against the Jets. 

"We took a big step last week, now we got to take another one this week," Burrow said. "It was exciting to get the big plays that we did. It was exciting to get the first win of the season. It's always the hardest. We got that one behind us. Now I think we're going to be rolling."

Miami upset the Bills in Week 3. They're the only undefeated team in the AFC. They have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL and their defense has made plays when needed to put games away.

Let's take a look at this week's matchups to watch for.

Matchup of the Game: Bengals Secondary vs. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle

It is going to take the entire secondary to slow down Hill and Waddle. 

Speed kills. Hill and Waddle are the fastest receiver duo in the NFL. They are two and three behind Stefon Diggs (344) for most receiving yards thus far. Waddle has 342 yards, while Hill's recorded 317 yards.

"I think they have two guys, literally, that any team would love to have as their number one receiver," Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said. "If you take care of Tyreek, well you got to worry about him (Waddle). They really stretch you out and do a really good job in the run game with their scheme. There's a reason why they are 3-0."

Their ability to create explosive plays is what makes them so deadly. Waddle has 131 yards after catch, which is second among all wide receivers. He leads the league with three 40+ yard plays.

Hill leads the NFL with six 20+ yard plays.

“A five-yard throw can turn into, god forbid, a long play," Anarumo said. "Just got to take great angles and hustle to the ball and make sure that we don’t allow, if it’s a catch, it’s a catch and a tackle not a catch-and-run.”

Don't read too much into the success the Bengals had against Hill last year in both of their meetings when he was a member of the Chiefs. The Dolphins offense is built and schemed completely different.

Their offense runs through these two receivers. Mike Hilton will see plenty of action from both of them in the slot while Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple will get their share on the outside. Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell will also play a big role in the Bengals' effort to contain he duo.

Thursday night will be the defense's biggest test of the season thus far. It will be crucial for them to make sure tackles and block out the off-the-field noise between Hill and Apple

Joe Burrow vs. Xavien Howard, Jevon Holland

The Dolphins secondary is home to one of the best coverage cornerbacks in Howard and a budding star in Holland.

Howard will probably get most of his looks against Ja'Marr Chase, but could get chances to matchup with Tee Higgins as well.

Josh Allen targeted Stefon Diggs 11 times last week. Howard held the star receiver to seven catches for 74 yards. Allen had 63 pass attempts.

Miami forced Allen to throw 21 incompletions. Nine of those passes were passes defended. Howard recorded two of them.

"He just makes everything hard," Burrow said. "There's nothing easy with him. He's going to make the short ones hard, he's going to make the long ones hard. He's going to make the crossing routes hard. He's a really good player."

Burrow will likely have to glance off of Howard's matchup and hit another one of his pass-catching options. In doing so, he will also have to be aware of where Holland is on the field.

The second-year safety had a career day against Buffalo with 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two passes defended, and one forced fumble. Holland can play center field to up in the box.

Josh Boyer, the Dolphins Defensive Coordinator, will use Holland in different looks to try to confuse Burrow and disrupt the offense. 

Howard has been dealing with a groin and glute injury that kept him limited in practice, but he's expected to play.

Joe Mixon vs. Dolphins Rush Defense

The Bengals run game has not found success yet this season. Mixon is averaging 2.8 yards per carry.

Cincinnati wants to give Mixon the load, but the lack of production has not been in the running back's favor. The frustrations mounted last week, as he finished with 12 rushes for 24 yards against one of the worst rush defenses in the league. 

Miami is top-10 rush defense. They have not allowed a running back to have over 50 yards rushing in a game yet this season. Lamar Jackson is the highest rusher against their defense with 119 yards on the ground in Week 2.

The Dolphins defense has done well at stopping the run to force offenses to throw the ball. They have seen 70 rushes compared to 122 passing attempts.

As the offensive line continues to gel, Mixon could flourish. He hasn't been able to hit gaps to get to the second and third levels of opposing defenses. Once Mixon can bounce a first hit or get into open space, he hits his stride.

He's also dealing with an ankle issue, which could be a big reason why he's struggled to get going early in the season. 

Trey Hendrickson vs. Terron Armstead

Hendrickson had one of the best games of his career against the Jets. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.

The defensive end had 2.5 sacks and two of the four turnovers, including a strip-sack on the Jets first possession of the second half that led to a Bengals touchdown. Hendrickson forced another fumble at the start of the fourth quarter.

Hendrickson will have a more of a contested matchup this week against Armstead.

Armstead has been battling a toe injury early in the season, but is still playing at an elite level. He made Von Miller a non-factor last week.

For more on this matchup, go here

The left tackle has been superb at protecting Tua Tagovailoa's blind spot. Armstead is the 10th best tackle through three weeks per Pro Football Focus.

Sam Hubbard has a more favorable tilt on the other side. He'll go up against Greg Little. With the injury to DJ Reader, guys like Hubbard and B.J. Hill will need to step up alongside Hendrickson to fill Reader's void in the trenches.

Bengals Offensive Line vs. Melvin Ingram

Cincinnati's offensive line played with more confidence and better communication against the Jets. They gave Burrow time to throw and didn't seem out of sync like in prior games.

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They get another challenge in Miami's defensive line led by Ingram. He signed with the Dolphins in the offseason after spending time in Pittsburgh before being traded to Kansas City last season.

Ingram has two sacks, six tackles, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, one pass defended in three games.

He can shoot the interior gaps, but his dominance comes from rushing the edge. He's versatile, so Jonah Williams and La'el Collins will have their hands full throughout the game.

The linebacker also has a high football IQ. He recognizes how to free his teammates on twists and stunts. 

A veteran presence like Ingram has benefitted the Dolphins' front seven. They had 46 pressures on 73 of Allen's dropbacks last week.

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