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Week 4 NFL Picks: Burfict is Back

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A pair of slow starters look to put their early-season struggles behind them.

Each week Zac Hirschbeck will look at the betting odds for each NFL game and then share his pick for each matchup. While hopefully it goes without saying, please don’t hold him accountable if you gamble away your retirement savings or child’s college fund based on his picks.

After going 8-8 in his Week 3 picks, Zac’s season-long record stands at 24-23-1 heading into Week 4.

Here are his thoughts on tonight’s game, which sees the Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) host the Miami Dolphins (1-2).

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5)

This week’s TNF matchup finds two teams that have seemingly been hard done by when it comes to their early-season schedules. The Bengals began the season by going on the road for two games against 10-win teams from 2015. They then returned home for a matchup with the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 3. Meanwhile, the Dolphins went on the road to Seattle and New England for the first two weeks before returning to Miami for their home opener against Cleveland. However, those matchups look a little less difficult considering their opponents’ results.

For Cincinnati, the Bengals’ defeats came to an injury-depleted Pittsburgh team that just lost by 31 to Philadelphia in Week 3, and to a Denver team that was propelled by a career day from Trevor Siemian. Miami lost to a Seattle team that put up just three points in their Week 2 loss to Los Angeles, and to a New England team that was starting their second and third-string quarterbacks. That isn’t as nasty as preseason schedules would’ve seemed to indicate.

With that being said, I think Cincinnati looks far likelier to turn things around quickly. While the Bengals certainly have their issues (shaky pass defense, struggling offensive line, turnover and injuries to key players on offense), Andy Dalton has played really well through three games and the defense gets back one of its best players (linebacker Vontaze Burfict) from a three-game suspension this week. Dalton will also likely be helped by a running game that has an advantageous matchup against Miami’s 31st ranked run defense.

Although the Dolphins’ talented defensive line could prove problematic for a Cincinnati offensive line that has surrendered a league-worst 12 sacks through three weeks, I don’t see Miami creating many other mismatches on Thursday night, especially considering their injury-depleted roster. As of Wednesday’s injury report, Miami has four starters already ruled out (Koa Misi, Arian Foster, Jordan Cameron, Mike Pouncey), two starters listed as doubtful (Jelani Jenkins and Anthony Steen), and 10 players listed as questionable.

It could be a long night for the Fins.

Pick: Cincinnati (-7.5)