Burfict’s back, just in time for the Bengals.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict has completed his three-game NFL suspension for repeated illegal hits. Cincinnati certainly hopes he returns with an edge to his game, but a controllable one.
We’ll find out Thursday night when the Bengals (tied for No. 14, AP Pro32) are 6-point favorites over the struggling Dolphins (No. 26, AP Pro32). Cincinnati has lost its past two.
“I still want him to be an aggressive player,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther says. “I don’t want any linebackers being passive. But again, at the same time, people are going to be looking for him, so he’s got to understand that and do it the right way. Hopefully he learned his lesson off what happened.”
For Dolphins fans, there’s the hope they learned a lesson, too. They barely beat weak Cleveland, needing three missed field goals, including a potential winner at the end of regulation by Cody Parkey, to survive. Then they won in overtime.
This has been a lopsided matchup, with Miami ahead 16-5. The Dolphins have won three in a row in the series.
That string ends now.
KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP
Why do we keep coming so close to elimination in this thing? Dolphins barely survived last Sunday. Maybe CINCINNATI will go easier on us.
No. 29 New Orleans (plus 3) at No. 23 (tie) San Diego
Despite their injuries, the Chargers have played decently. New Orleans hasn’t.
BEST BET: CHARGERS, 37-30
No. 22 Indianapolis (minus 2 1-2) vs. No. 30 Jacksonville at London
Jaguars travel a few thousand miles for their first win.
UPSET SPECIAL: JAGUARS, 27-25
No. 6 Seattle (minus 1 1-2) at No. 18 New York Jets
Tempted to make this UPSET SPECIAL, particularly with Russell Wilson’s questionable status.
No. 21 Buffalo (plus 4 1-2) at No. 1 (tie) New England
Maybe Patriots will come back to the field when Tom Brady returns.
No. 11 New York Giants (plus 3 1-2) at No. 3 Minnesota, Monday night
Maybe Vikings will come back to the field when Adrian Peterson returns.
No. 9 Kansas City (plus 5 1-2) at No. 7 Pittsburgh
A ticked-off group of Steelers will squeak through.
No. 19 Los Angeles (plus 10) at No. 13 Arizona
As will a ticked-off group of Cardinals.
No. 10 Carolina (minus 3 1-2) at No. 17 Atlanta
Key early season matchup in NFC South. Can’t see Panthers going 1-3.
No. 16 Oakland (plus 3) at No. 7 (tie) Baltimore
The old west-to-east travel jinx gets the Raiders.
No. 27 Tennessee (plus 6 1-2) at No. 12 Houston
Will the Texans show some grit and guts after Foxborough fiasco?
No. 23 (tie) Detroit (minus 3) at No. 32 Chicago
At least the Lions have looked competitive while underachieving.
No. 1 (tie) Denver (minus 2) at No. 25 Tampa Bay
If Jameis Winston is off his game again, Denver D will make this ugly quickly.
No. 14 (tie) Dallas (minus 3) at No. 28 San Francisco
Would like to see Dak Prescott against a stingy defense. Not this week.
No. 31 Cleveland (plus 9) at No. 20 Washington
This won’t be so bad for Cleveland. Wait until Browns host Brady and Pats next week, though.
This Week: Against spread (6-9-1). Straight up:(7-9)
Season Totals: Against spread (21-25-2). Straight up: (29-19)
Best Bet: 1-2 against spread, 2-1 straight up.
Upset special: 1-2 against spread, 1-2 straight up.