DATE: Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012
TIME: 1 p.m. ET
SITE: Paul Brown Stadium
TV: CBS (Marv Albert, play-by-play; Rich Gannon, analysis)
SERIES RECORD: Miami leads 14-5
AT MIAMI: Dolphins lead 6-2
AT CINCINNATI: Dolphins lead 8-3
LAST MEETING: 2010 at Cincinnati; Dolphins 22, Bengals 14
SERIES TREND: The Dolphins have dominated this series since the 1970s, taking 13 of the 16 meetings after the Bengals took two of the first three. This doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s interesting to note that the Dolphins have never lost to Cincinnati in the month of October (8-0).
SERIES HIGHLIGHT: Just as they’re doing this year, the Dolphins traveled to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in Week 5 in 2000. The Dolphins showed little life in the early going and trailed 13-0 before Olindo Mare hit a field goal in the final minute of the first half. With eight seconds left in the half, the Bengals decided to have quarterback Akili Smith drop back to pass. What ensued was a game-changing play, with Jason Taylor forcing a fumble while sacking Smith, recovering the fumble and returning it 29 yards for a touchdown as time expired. Buoyed by the play, the Dolphins outscored Cincinnati 21-3 in the second half to leave town with a 31-16 victory.
BENGALS’ RECORD: 3-1
LAST GAME: Beat Jacksonville, 27-10
OVERVIEW: The Bengals, coming off a surprising playoff appearance in 2011, may have been dismissed as serious AFC North contenders after getting humbled by Baltimore in the season opener, but Cincinnati has rebounded with victories against Cleveland, Washington and Jacksonville. The Bengals now sit tied atop the AFC North with those same Ravens.
THE BENGALS’ STRENGTH ON OFFENSE: Quarterback Andy Dalton earned a lot of praise as a rookie, but his biggest contribution in 2011 was avoiding key mistakes. He’s taken things up a level this season and is completing more than 67 percent of his passes with a rating over 100. He also has one of the top wide receivers as a target in the form of second-year player A.J. Green.
THE BENGALS’ QUESTION MARK ON OFFENSE: Cincinnati let Cedric Benson go in the offseason, replacing him with former Patriots starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis. In the early going, Green-Ellis has only been marginally effective. The offensive line hasn’t been very impressive, either, with Dalton sacked 12 times in four games.
THE BENGALS’ STRENGTH ON DEFENSE: A big reason the Bengals made the playoffs last season was the play of their defense, but it just wasn’t very good in the first three weeks when Cincinnati gave up an average of 34 points a game. Cincinnati has to hope Sunday’s game at Jacksonville, when the Jaguars were held to 212 total yards, represented a return to form. One thing the Bengals have done well all season is rush the passer, with 17 sacks in four games.
THE BENGALS’ QUESTION MARK ON DEFENSE: The Cincinnati secondary is littered with former first-round picks — Leon Hall, Pacman Jones, Terence Newman, Reggie Nelson, former Dolphin Jason Allen and this year’s No. 1 pick, Dre Kirkpatrick — but the Bengals haven’t been very good in pass defense this season, with opposing quarterbacks posting a 102.4 rating. The run defense hasn’t been much better, with opponents averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
THE BENGALS’ STRENGTH ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Adam “Pacman” Jones may be a controversial player, but no one can argue the guy is a playmaker. He’s a threat as a punt returner, as he showed with an 81-yard touchdown in Week 2 against Cleveland. Cincinnati also has tremendous kickers in Mike Nugent (7-for-7 on field goals) and punter Kevin Huber (42.2 net average).
THE BENGALS’ QUESTION MARK ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Cincinnati has been pretty solid in all aspects of the special teams, but if we have to come up with something here, their kickoff coverage hasn’t been great. The Bengals rank 23rd in the league in that category and have given up a long of 55 yards.