Just as kids nationwide may struggle to go to bed amid their Halloween-induced sugar high, so too could the Miami Dolphins struggle to find a treat in their Thursday Night Football showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. ESPN has the action live tonight at 8:25 EST / 5:25 PST, with a special Halloween-night showdown between teams headed in the opposite direction. If you can’t watch the game in HD on ESPN, you can watch Thursday Night Football free live online using one of several different methods.
The 6-2 Bengals travel to Miami tonight as a pleasant surprise — dare I say treat? — so far in the 2013 NFL season. In four of the top five major statistical categories, Cincinnati ranks in the top 10, and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is a big reason why. Through seven games, the Bengals rank 7th in the NFL in passing, ninth in overall offense and eighth in defense. Their rushing game is a middle-of-the-pack 19th, but with Dalton leading the Bengals to some solid wins this season, the mediocre performance of running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Gio Bernard can be overlooked.
For the season, Bengals QB Andy Dalton has gone 183-279 for 2,249 yards and 16 touchdowns. That’s good enough for the #8 slot in ESPN’s Quarterback Rankings (QBR), with only 2 percentage points separating Dalton from a top-four QBR. Considering the season the rest of the NFL’s QB leaders are having, that’s quite an accomplishment. In fact, as noted on NFL.com, Andy Dalton is more popular in Cincinnati right now than Ken Anderson’s early 1980s mustache was in the early 1980s.
But when you watch Thursday Night Football free live online, you won’t just be seeing the Bengals play. Miami, which is hosting Cincinnati for tonight’s matchup, averages 58 fewer yards per game than the Bengals, 2.9 fewer points per game, and allows almost six more points per game. Is it any wonder the Dolphins stand just 3-4 and have been tapped to win this Thursday Night showdown by only one ESPN analyst?
In all honesty, the game could be more competitive than the statistics might let on. The Miami Dolphins are in a must-win situation, having failed to win a game since Sept. 22. What’s more, the Dolphins gave the New England Patriots took a 17-3 lead into the locker room at halftime this past Sunday against the New England Patriots, only to see the Pats score 24 unanswered points. That could be a tough thing to recover from just four days later, as will be the loss of starting offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, but sometimes the desperate teams are the most dangerous.
So, as you return from trick-or-treating with handfuls of candy and want to watch Thursday Night Football free live online, you can do so on DirecTV’s website. It requires a subscription to the NFL Sunday Ticket Package, but anyone who has one can watch the live streaming version of tonight’s game for free. Most pundits are betting on this Halloween night game being more of a treat for the Bengals than the Dolphins. But Cincinnati’s skeletons could always come out of the closet and spook the favored team into a Thursday Night NFL loss.