Analysis

Dolphins-Bengals Week 4 Scouting Report: Grades and Key Matchups

The Scouting Report for Thursday night’s Dolphins-Bengals game is produced by The 33rd Team’s Scouting Department, which is led by former Eagles, Cardinals and Ravens personnel executive T.J. McCreight and assisted by scouts Justin Casey, Kevin Cohn and Evan Pritt.

Key Matchups

CIN QB Joe Burrow vs. MIA QB Tua Tagovailoa

  • This is a rematch of the epic LSU-Alabama game in 2019 that LSU won 46-41. Burrow (LSU)  threw for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns to Tagovailoa’s 418 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT.
  • Both players have one of their college wide receivers as a top target on their current team: Ja’Marr Chase for Cincinnati and Jaylen Waddle for Miami.
  • Burrow beat Tagovailoa in college, was drafted No. 1 ahead of Tagovailoa when the Alabama QB was the preseason consensus No. 1 pick and he has already taken his team to a Super Bowl. 
  • Tagovailoa’s strengths are his accuracy, anticipation and eye manipulation. There are still questions about his arm strength. He has excelled versus man coverage this season, leading the NFL with a 150.9 QB rating and 4 TDs. Cincinnati has used man coverage 32.1% of the snaps, which ranks sixth in the league.
  • Burrow’s strengths are his toughness, touch and leadership. He’s a good, not great deep-ball thrower. He displays excellent poise. Miami is second in man coverage usage, running it 38.9% of the time, and Burrow ranks 12th versus man coverage with a QB rating of 114.6 and has thrown 5 TDs and no picks. All four of his interceptions have come versus zone coverage.
  • Tagovailoa’s strengths have been on display in Miami’s new offense, and he has extra motivation going up against Burrow.

 

CIN WR Ja’Marr Chase vs. MIA CB Xavien Howard

  • We expect Howard to travel with Chase. 
  • It will be interesting to watch these guys match up for the first time in the NFL. 
  • Chase is a rare combination of strength and speed. He is excellent at running through contact.
  • Howard has the mass, length and speed to match Chase.
  • Even if Howard neutralizes Chase, Burrow has other big play options in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.

MIA WR Tyreek Hill vs. CIN CB Eli Apple

  • Hill said this week, “I can’t wait to go against Eli Apple. I owe you, boy. I owe you. I’m here. The cheetah is here.”
  • This seems to be in reference to Apple tweeting “He’s a Baby” and tagging Hill following the Bengals AFC Championship victory in which Apple made a crucial tackle of Hill at the 1-yard line that ended the first half and prevented KC from even attempting a field goal.
  • In that game, Apple covered Hill 1 on 1 on 8 passing attempts. Hill was targeted 4 times with 3 catches for 39 yards. Apple’s tackle at the 1-yard line came two plays after he was called for pass interference in the end zone while covering Hill. 
  • When Apple isn’t tracking Hill, he’ll have to deal with Jaylen Waddle. Apple might want to stay off of social media after this game.

CIN Edge Trey Hendrickson vs. MIA LT Terron Armstead

  • Hendrickson lines up primarily on the right side versus the LT, so they should see each other for most of the game.
  • They were teammates in New Orleans from 2017-2020, so they saw each other often in practice and know each other’s tendencies.
  • Armstead still has adequate feet to get to wide-aligned defenders, and he is patient in his pass sets. He has strong hands to control, but he is slow with his punch. He is a finesse player who doesn’t show a lot of urgency in the run game. He doesn’t show the lower-body flexion to anchor or get under defender’s pads. He could be susceptible to a speed-to-power rush. 
  • Hendrickson is strong at the point of attack (POA). He shows good awareness and is solid against the run. Linemen have their most success against him when they get their hands on him early. He can win with speed and power and shows a good variety of moves. He has a very good inside move. 
  • Hendrickson could give Armstead a lot of problems with his motor and strength if the Dolphins don’t help him. 

Bengals’ Keys to Victory

  • Protect Burrow and rediscover Joe Mixon in the running game. The Dolphins’ defense has been susceptible to the run, ranking 25th in yards per rush.
  • Limit the Dolphins’ explosive plays. They have allowed 11 completions of 20-plus yards, which is tied for 23rd in the NFL.

Dolphins’ Keys to Victory

  • Getting off the field on third down. Through three games, the Miami defense ranks 29th in third-down defense.
  • Tagovailoa has to play effectively despite his back and ankle injuries on a quick turnaround. He looked good when he returned in the second half last week against Buffalo.

 

WATCH MORE: Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins in DFS?

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