Can Sparano’s squad overcome last week’s unfortunate call?
The Dolphins finished the weekend on a low note last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a loss that no one would have predicted the outcome that it featured. Miami looks to capitalize off the ref’s blunder and feelings of anger and betrayal and use them to ride to victory against the Cincinnati Bengals and increase their road record to 4-0.
3. Run The Ball!
The Dolphins have struggled to run the ball all season long, and when they finally seem to look like a slight resemblance to last years fourth ranked rushing offense in the league, they fall apart, such as the past two weeks. The Dolphins ran for 150 combined yards against the Green Bay Packers only two weeks ago, only to rush for 64 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.
The Bengals rush defense is not very good, in fact they are right in front of the Packers in allowing yards per game (118) and are ranked 22nd in the league in run defense. This is the week where Miami can gain some confidence in their running attack and get the ball rolling. Mid-season is now upon us, which means we either find out if our team simply cannot run the ball behind our line, or we simply were in a rut.
2. Contain Batman and Robin:
Everyone knows who Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are. Together they combine to form one of the most dynamic and potentially explosive receiving tandems in the league. Either one of them has shown over the course of their career that they can break open a game at any time. It will be up to both Vontae Davis, and Jason Allen/Sean Smith to shut down the duo.
Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is nursing a hip injury, and if the Fins pass rush can force him out of the pocket, and get him to make premature throws, the Dolphins should be able to make some plays on the ball. This is a Dolphins defense that has not had a lot of plays or caused any turnovers since Week 2 against the Vikings. What was once thought of as finally a defense that would be able to be offensive, turned out to be a little bit premature. But containing T.O. and OchoCinco while forcing Palmer to try and make things happen on his own will be a big factor in whether the Bengals hang around, or the Dolphins can shut them out, and win by double digits.
1. Do We Have a Play-Caller?
This week will be a test for Dan Henning to see whether or not he can still get the job done for us as an offensive coordinator. Last week we had a chance to drive down the field with a little over two minutes left, and Henning dropped the ball with sending in the fullback on the four plays we ran, instead of opting to go 3-4 wide. He also chose to run the ball on first down. Henning has had a series of mysterious calls this year, and last week was no different. This week, while the Bengals defense has not been performing up to expectations so far, that does not mean that they do not have the firepower to suddenly snap out of their funk against the Dolphins. Henning should be ready for anything, and this week will be my test as to whether Henning still has the touch or not when it comes to calling Miami’s plays.
As I do every week, I’m going with the Dolphins here, in a 24-17 win. The Dolphins played well against the Steelers last week, but could not quite pull out the win. This week they will make good on all of the anger and emotions that ran high earlier this week following the bitter loss. Miami has seen a lot tougher opponents than the Bengals, and this is the week the Fins flex their muscles again.