TNF player props: Handicapping humanity in Dolphins-Bengals

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Last season, we rock and rolled our way to the Super Bowl with music-themed Thursday Night Football player props, joyfully celebrating the start of a new NFL week. This year, we'll use an episode from "Must See TV" cornerstone "Seinfeld" each week to remind us that betting is supposed to be fun, even when an absurd series of events leads to a losing bet.

"Fruit's a gamble; I know that going in."

The first episode of the second season of "Seinfeld" introduces the characters' trials and tribulations with dating. Thirty years after the episodes aired, the themes still ring true, as humans have the same things in common now as they did then. Remembering that the characters on the field this Thursday night are human is the basis for a sensible handicap, while also knowing that trying to figure out how those humans are going to respond can be as difficult as picking out the right cantaloupe at the grocery store.

"The Ex-Girlfriend"

Midway through the episode, Jerry does a stand-up joke about wanting to be in the smallest room possible when receiving medical attention. "You don't want them doing anything to you that makes other doctors go, 'I have to see this! Are they really going to do that to them?'" Having to go on the road four days after their defense played 90 plays in the South Florida heat, the Dolphins might feel like they're involved in some sort of experimental treatment under the TNF spotlight.

On paper, the Bengals being favored by over a field goal doesn't make sense, but the Dolphins are, as Jerry and Kramer say, "flesh and blood!" To take advantage of the wear and tear on Miami, the Bengals should turn to their bruising back, Joe Mixon.

You don't put the ball in the air to take advantage of a tired team; you use your offensive line to lean on them, push them down the field, and force the defense to tackle. It's been a struggle so far for Mixon on a yards-per-play basis - which is why this total is relatively low. However, that can be explained away by him facing three defenses in the top half of the league in yards per play allowed thus far.

Mixon was rested late in the second half against the Jets, with Zac Taylor understanding the short week ahead. Given the struggles the Bengals have had protecting Joe Burrow, they'll want to stabilize the offense via the run game and will have success doing so against the banged-up Dolphins.

Pick: Joe Mixon over 65.5 rushing yards (-110)

A TD that's definitely going to happen

We're not going to be the guy on the highway that Jerry talks about who can't stop changing lanes. We're sticking with riding Mixon for our obvious anytime touchdown.

Like Jerry's love interest Marlene might say, we've seen the Bengals' act at the goal line - "It's just so much fluff." They've tried too hard to have Burrow throw it to their fleet of receivers, ignoring Mixon, who's yet to score a touchdown this season after 16 total scores last year.

The Bengals have zero rushing touchdowns through three games, but they can get one on Thursday night, especially if the tired Dolphins want to get off the field, finding a break in the action to say "alright then."

Pick: Joe Mixon anytime touchdown (-110)

A TD that probably won't happen ... but maybe it does

When we look for a long-shot touchdown scorer, all we ask for is one target in the end zone to decide the bet right then and there. Like a Band-Aid: one motion, right off! Mitch Trubisky (+550) had one chance to score for us last week, and he did it.

We'll give another Mitchell a call this week, looking for the Bengals tight end to get a look near the end zone. Mitchell Wilcox has seen his snap share go from 2% to 27% to 57% in three games this season. If the Bengals are running well, a play-action shot to the second tight end might result in Wilcox getting his name called like he's in a doctors' waiting room, only to have to go wait in a smaller room.

Pick: Mitchell Wilcox anytime touchdown (+600)

How to bet: The first two bets should be single-unit wagers - to win a unit on minus prices and more than a unit on a plus-money bet. The last wager should be smaller, trying to win back your standard unit size.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

TNF player props: Handicapping humanity in Dolphins-Bengals
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