Tua Tagovailoa USATSI Miami Dolphins
USATSI

Good morning to everyone but especially to...

THE CINCINNATI BENGALS

Joe Burrow Getty Cincinnati Bengals
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The Bengals have rediscovered a key part of their offense and, in turn, rediscovered their winning ways, knocking off the previously undefeated Dolphins 27-15.

  • Joe Burrow threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and, perhaps most importantly, as sacked just one as he lead the way. Burrow was sacked 15 times in the first three weeks.
  • Tee Higgins had seven receptions for 124 yards and a score.
  • Vonn Bell had two interceptions, including a crucial one in the fourth quarter with Miami driving. Entering the night, he had just two interceptions in 96 career games.
  • Tua Tagovailoa was stretchered off the field in the second quarter -- more on that below -- with what the Dolphins described as head and neck injuries. He was later officially diagnosed with a concussion. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 193 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

Tagovailoa's injury is the biggest headline -- and we'll explain why in a bit -- but to quickly wrap up the Bengals win: Burrow entered the night with just two completions on throws at least 20 yards downfield this season. He had three Thursday including the touchdown toss to Higgins. Last year, Burrow led the NFL with 11 passing touchdowns on throws at least 20 yards downfield, 

Defensively, the Bengals made big plays in key moments. They got stops on eight of 10 third downs, forced two turnovers and allowed a touchdown on just one of Miami's three red zone drives. The special teams even blocked a field goal.

The Bengals aren't quite all the way back to where they were at the end of last season. The running game is struggling, and that especially showed in the red zone. But after starting this season 0-2, the reigning AFC champs have been impressive in their response.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Tua Tagovailoa stretchered off in second quarter with head and neck injuries

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was stretchered off the field after hitting the ground hard on a sack late in the second quarter. He was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center with head and neck injuries and later diagnosed with a concussion. As for more encouraging updates, he was conscious and had movement in all of his extremities, and he was able to fly back to Miami with the team.

  • Tagovailoa was questionable to play in the game with back and ankle injuries suffered in Week 3 against the Bills.
  • On the Week 3 play, Tagovailoa took a tough hit, fell, got up, stumbled and then fell back to the ground. Though he was eventually cleared to return in the win, the NFLPA is investigating Tagovailoa's concussion check.
  • The play Thursday was perhaps even more gruesome. Tagovailoa immediately went into fencing response, a response to head trauma in which the arms and fingers remain rigid at an unnatural angle. Here's how head coach Mike McDaniel responded:
  • McDaniel: "All of his teammates, myself, we're all very concerned. The best news we can give is that everything is checked out that he didn't have anything more serious than a concussion."

Tagovailoa has a long injury history, but the two most recent ones, which occurred within five days of each other, are particularly concerning.

NFL expert picks for highly anticipated Week 4 🏈

Josh Allen Getty Lamar Jackson Buffalo Bills Baltimore Ravens
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There's never a shortage of storylines any week of the NFL season, but this one feels particularly full of good ones. On Sunday alone, we have...

Not only are Allen and Jackson among the MVP favorites, but they're arguably the two most fun players in the league, and in his picks, our NFL expert John Breech thinks that should play out on the field.

  • Breech: "Whatever the Ravens were planning to pay Jackson in his next contract extension, they might want to go ahead and double it. ... Allen is the only QB in the NFL who has gone over 1,000 passing yards through three games this year, and based on how the Ravens are playing, Allen might top 1,000 yards in Week 4 alone. The pick: Bills 37-30 over Ravens"

As for Chiefs-Buccaneers, which will indeed be played in Tampa following Hurricane Ian, here's who senior NFL writer Pete Prisco likes.

Here are our experts' full picks:

John Breech | Pete Prisco | Tyler Sullivan

Expert picks for loaded college football Saturday 🏈

D.J. Uiagalelei Getty Clemson Tigers NC State Wolfpack
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Make sure to load up on good snacks today, because you might not leave your couch this weekend. Not only is the NFL slate outstanding, but so is the college football schedule, and we're here to get you ready.

This week features five ranked-vs.-ranked matchups, including a top-10 battle between No. 5 Clemson and No. 10 NC State. Our college football reporter Barrett Sallee expects a thriller.

  • Sallee: "Clemson will win the battle at the line of scrimmage and force a couple of mistakes from Dennis Leary that will prevent this from becoming a shootout. Tigers running back Will Shipley will take over late and prevent D.J. Uiagalelei from having to be a difference-maker for the second straight week. This one will come down to the final drive or two, and the Tigers will hang on to keep their CFP chances alive. Prediction: NC State (+6.5)"

While Barrett expects Clemson to keep its CFP hopes alive, fellow college football expert Shehan Jeyarajah has a different title contender going down in shocking fashion this weekend in his teams on upset alert.

Our college football experts have done a terrific job getting us ready for a huge week. Here's what else I'd recommend:

MLB roundup: Huge Mets-Braves series on tap; Blue Jays clinch playoff berth ⚾

Luis Guillorme Getty Dansby Swanson Mets Braves
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With the MLB playoffs one week away and a huge weekend on deck, let's catch up on everything going on in baseball.

  • The AL is pretty straightforward: The Astros, Yankees and Guardians have clinched their respective divisions. Thursday, the Blue Jays clinched a Wild Card spot.
  • The Rays and Mariners are near-locks for the remaining AL Wild Card spots.
  • As for the NL, the Dodgers and Cardinals have clinched their division. Beyond that, there's a lot up in the air.

Both the Mets and Braves have clinched playoff berths, but they have their eyes set on the NL East crown (and a Wild Card bye). New York is one game ahead of Atlanta, and they meet for a three-game series starting tonight. Our MLB scribe Mike Axisa has excellent insight on this pivotal series.

The NL Wild Card race has gotten interesting thanks to the Phillies, who just got swept by the Cubs. Here's what the race looks like:

  • 1. Braves (13½ games up, clinched playoff berth)
  • 2.. Padres (2½ games up)
  • 3. Phillies (--)
  • 4. Brewers (½ game back)

World Cup Power Rankings: USMNT falls, top tier holds steady ⚽

Walker Zimmerman Getty USMNT
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The final tune-up window ahead of the World Cup has ended, and the action in Qatar kicks off in just 51 days. That means it's time for soccer guru James Benge's World Cup Power Rankings, and it's no surprise that the United States has tumbled significantly after a pair of poor games.

  • Benge: "24. USA (-10) -- Their 2-0 defeat to Japan was as poor a performance as any delivered by a nation that envisages itself as eventually being a major footballing force; in almost every aspect of their play, Gregg Berhalter's side seemed to be doing a poor impression of an antiquated team who had been passed by in the modern game. No less concerning was that they showed rather limited signs of progress against Saudi Arabia. This simply isn't a team that looks like putting the ball in the net."

As for the teams looking strongest, Brazil and Argentina held strong at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and are the only members of James' "favorites" tier.

You can see the entire rankings here.

What we're watching this weekend 📺

All weekend long, we're watching the NWSL and Serie A on Paramount+.

Friday

🏈 No. 15 Washington at UCLA, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday

🏈 No. 4 Michigan at Iowa, Noon on Fox
🏈 No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss, Noon on ESPN
🏈 No. 2 Alabama at No. 20 Arkansas, 3:30 p.m. on CBS, Paramount+
🏈 No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor, 3:30 p.m. on Fox
🏈 No. 10 NC State at No. 5 Clemson, 7:30 p.m. on ABC

Sunday

🏈 Here's the NFL Week 4 schedule.
Mets at Braves, 7 p.m. on ESPN