DATE: Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012
TIME: 1 p.m. ET
SITE: Sun Life Stadium
TV: FOX (Chris Myers, play-by-play; Tim Ryan, analysis)
SERIES RECORD: Miami leads 9-2
AT MIAMI: Dolphins lead 4-1
AT ST. LOUIS: Dolphins lead 2-1
AT LOS ANGELES (the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995): Dolphins lead 3-0
LAST MEETING: 2008 at St. Louis; Dolphins 16, Rams 12
SERIES TREND: The Dolphins have dominated in a series that has featured few close games. Of the last nine meetings between the teams, only two were decided by less than 14 points — the 16-12 Dolphins victory in 2008 and the 37-31 Miami overtime victory in 1986.
SERIES HIGHLIGHT: The Rams’ last visit to South Florida came in Week 7 of the 2004 season and the Dolphins entered the game with an 0-6 record. But Miami looked like a powerhouse that day, thanks to a near-flawless performance by quarterback Jay Fiedler. After completing 13 of 17 passes for 203 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, Fiedler compiled a 154.8 passer rating — close to the maximum rating of 158.3. Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor, who will be inducted into the Dolphin Honor Roll at halftime Sunday, each had a sack in that game.
RAMS’ RECORD: 3-2
LAST GAME: Beat Arizona, 17-3
OVERVIEW: After recording impressive back-to-back home victories against NFC West rivals Seattle and Arizona, the Rams find themselves with a winning record for the first time since they were 4-3 in the 2006 season. St. Louis finished with three wins or less four of the last five years, but it appears the team is on the rebound under first-year head coach Jeff Fisher.
THE RAMS’ STRENGTH ON OFFENSE: Let’s be honest here, St. Louis is no juggernaut on offense, particularly with top receiver Danny Amendola now sidelined with a shoulder injury. Even though his numbers don’t suggest it, the biggest threat on the St. Louis offense remains running back Steve Jackson, the franchise’s all-time rushing leader. Jackson is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry behind a suspect offensive line, but he still has the ability to make a difference.
THE RAMS’ QUESTION MARK ON OFFENSE: This is how significant the loss of Amendola is: He leads the Rams with 32 catches on the season and nobody else on the team has more than 13. Sam Bradford may be a franchise quarterback, but he has little in terms of weapons in the passing game and on top of that his pass protection is spotty at best.
THE RAMS’ STRENGTH ON DEFENSE: Anybody who watched the St. Louis defense sack Arizona’s Kevin Kolb nine times in the Week 5 Thursday night game would think the pass rush drives the Rams defense. But it’s the secondary that’s been playing lights out. Led by the starting cornerback tandem of second-round draft pick Janoris Jenkins and veteran free agent pick-up Cortland Finnegan, the Rams have allowed only two touchdown passes all season and have come up with eight interceptions.
THE RAMS’ QUESTION MARK ON DEFENSE: The Rams haven’t been nearly as good against the run, giving up an average of 4.4 yards per rushing attempt. While they won both games, the Rams gave up more than 175 yards rushing against both Washington and Seattle.
THE RAMS’ STRENGTH ON SPECIAL TEAMS: St. Louis decided to go this season with two rookies handling their kicking game, and it’s clear it was the right move. Greg Zuerlein, in fact, has been the best kicker in the NFL so far this season — rookie or no rookie. He’s a perfect 13-for-13 on field goals, with eight of them from 45 yards or beyond. Against Seattle in Week 4, he became the first kicker in league history to kick a field goal of 60 yards or more and another of 50 or more in the same game. Oh, and punter Jonathan Hekker is averaging 49.5 yards per punt with a net of 41.2.
THE RAMS’ QUESTION MARK ON SPECIAL TEAMS: St. Louis isn’t likely to get help for its anemic offense from its return game because in the first five games the Rams don’t have a kickoff return longer than 36 yards or a punt return longer than 22 yards. The Rams also have to replace Amendola on punt returns, with Jenkins likely to get the call during his absence.