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Bengals at Dolphins

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The Chiefs and Broncos have taken plenty of the headlines in the AFC through the first half of the season. However, the Bengals aren't too far behind with a 6-2 record, while holding on to a comfortable lead in the AFC North heading into Week 9. Cincinnati travels down to Miami looking to extend a four-game winning streak, while the Dolphins have dropped four straight games after a 3-0 start.

The Bengals' offense put up their biggest output since 2009 in Sunday's 49-9 drubbing of the Jets, as Andy Dalton threw a career-high five touchdown passes. Cincinnati easily covered as six-point home favorites, while not allowing a touchdown at Paul Brown Stadium in the last nine quarters. Dalton connected with second-year wideout Marvin Jones for four scores, while the Bengals' defense returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns.

The Dolphins last won a game on September 22, a last-minute triumph against the Falcons at home. Since that 3-0 beginning to the season, Miami has stumbled for four consecutive defeats, including a blown 14-point lead in this past Sunday's 27-17 setback at New England. The Dolphins jumped out to a 17-3 halftime advantage, but Joe Philbin's club didn't score a point in the second half, while allowing 24 points to the division-leading Patriots. Miami failed to cover as 6 ½-point road underdogs, the fourth straight ATS defeat for the Dolphins since cashing in its first three victories.

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Dalton and the Bengals look to avenge a home loss to the Dolphins last season, 17-13 as three-point favorites. Miami rushed for just 68 yards on 35 carries, but Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush each scored a touchdown on the ground, while Ryan Tannehill threw for 223 yards. Dalton was intercepted twice by the Miami defense, but connected with A.J. Green on a touchdown strike in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to four points. The Dolphins held on for the underdog win, while beating the Bengals in each of the last two matchups (won at Cincinnati in 2010).

Cincinnati has split four games from an ATS standpoint as a favorite, which includes non-covers at Cleveland and Buffalo. The Bengals managed to knock off the Bills in overtime, but couldn't cash as six-point road 'chalk.' Since Dalton arrived as quarterback in 2011, the Bengals own a 5-3 SU and 4-3-1 ATS when laying points on the highway, with four of those victories coming by double-digits.

Since 2010, the Dolphins have won just 11 of their last 27 games at Sun Life Stadium, which includes losses this season to the Ravens and Bills. Under Philbin, Miami has covered three of four times in the home underdog role (all last season), including an upset of Seattle as three-point 'dogs, 27-24 last November. Also, Miami has lost seven consecutive home games to AFC North opponents, with that streak starting in a 38-25 defeat to Cincinnati to close the 2007 season.

VegasInsider.com handicapper Antony Dinero says this game can be a make-or-break for the Dolphins, "Considering both teams enter Week 9 with aspirations of lasting past Week 17, this contest at the halfway point means everything, momentum-wise. Can Dalton continue to sizzle as he has the past few weeks, further developing in-game chemistry with a formidable young receiving corps? If the Bengals continue to pile up passing yardage, it will be imperative that Tannehill find a suitable replacement for the injured Brandon Gibson, especially since Mike Wallace's transition has gone so poorly. Expect the team who does the most damage through the aerial attack to prevail on Thursday night."

Gibson tore his ACL in Sunday's loss to the Patriots, as the receiver is tied with Charles Clay for the team lead in touchdowns with three. The Dolphins will likely be without left tackle Jonathan Martin, who is listed as doubtful with an illness.

From a totals perspective, the Dolphins saw their five-game streak to the 'over' end in the loss at New England, as Miami has hit the 'over' in five of seven contests this season. The Bengals are riding a three-game 'over' streak, while posting the 'over' in three of four games away from Paul Brown Stadium this season.

The Bengals are listed as three-point road favorites at most outlets, while the total is set at 43. The game kicks off at 8:30 PM EST and can be seen on the NFL Network.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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