Opening Week 9 of the NFL 2013 season, we follow the Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) to SunLife Stadium to play the Miami Dolphins (3-4). The Dolphins have been on a four game losing streak since starting the season 0-3 and are looking to stop the digression at home. The Bengals have not lost since they played the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 (17-6) and quarterback Andy Dalton is coming up on Pro Bowl conversations across the league.
Miami surprised the league when they came out of the gate undefeated against the Browns (23-10), the Colts (24-20) and the Falcons (27-23). With their first loss against the New Orleans Saints (38-17) in Week 4, it seems they simply cannot recover their winning ways.
“We have to do a better job of closing out games,” says wide Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace, and he cannot be more accurate. In their four losses, Miami has blown halftime leads every time, allowing their opponents to regroup and come back to take the game away. Prime example: in Week 8, even though the Dolphins defense held elite New England Patriots quarterback tom Brady to only 116 yards, and reports showed significant swelling to one of his hands, he was able to pull his team back from a 17-3 deficit and win 27-17. Miami did not score once in the entire second half.
Not for lack of trying. Tannehill flung the ball downfield more than once but threw an interception while trying to hit Wallace down filed. The ball was tipped to by Pat’s Devin McCourty to Marquis Cole who went down at his 18 with Tannehill’s first interception of the game. The Patriots’ defense appeared to be fully awake after halftime, sacking Tannehill six times in the final quarters.
|Completions/Attempts||Yards||Yards per Att||TD||Int||Sacks/Yards Lost||QBR|
So Miami needs to work on their second half approach. It is unclear if they are relaxing with the first half lead or if the opposing team figures out their mojo and makes the needed adjustments to counteract and overcome them. Miami’s offense needs to keep pace with the defense and take advantage of every possession.
After losing the season opener to the Chicago Bears (24-21) the Bengals defeated the Steelers (20-10) and the Packers (34-30) only to drop one to the Browns in Week 4 (17-6).
The Bengals were the first team to beat the New England Patriots this year (13-6) breaking Brady’s touchdown streak when he was just two short of current record holder Drew Brees. This win catapulted the Bengals into the spotlight, setting them up for the current winning streak. The Week 8 win against the New York Jets (49-9) by the widest margin yet this year has pushed the Bengals into the realm of true contender for the playoffs.
Quarterback Andy “Red” Dalton is in a zone of his own with a 99 QBR and 16 touchdowns through the air. Against the Jets, he completed 19 of 30 passes for 325 yards, averaging 10.8 yards per attempt. He was only sacked once for a two yard loss and came out of the game with a 125.7 QBR. Miami will have to contend with the Bengals’ 8th ranked defense, which held Brady to 197 yards. The offense is ranked 9th in the league, and proved that ranking is well deserved against the Jets.
|1st Downs||YardsRush/Pass/Ttl||TDs||Sacks||Turnover Ration (ToR)||Time of Poss(ToP)|
On paper and on film, the Bengal’s are a better team than the Dolphins. They have more offensive yards, and more touchdowns. However, they are close when it comes to turnover ratio and this may be the difference maker in the game on Thursday night. If the Bengals defense can force turnovers Dalton has a chance to run up the score. If Miami’s defense repeats their performance against Brady and Tannehill can then capitalize on takeaways, Miami may get an edge over Cincy. With so many ifs and maybes, we have to give the game to the Bengals.
By Brandi Tasby