Cutler, Dolphins Hope To Keep Ball Moving Against Stout Carolina Defense

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CHARLOTTE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins will look to avoid a third straight loss on national television when they face the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football.

Miami has been a streak-riding team since opening the season with a victory at Los Angeles.

Two straight losses followed by a three game winning streak got the Dolphins out to an impressive 4-2 start, but now Miami is in jeopardy of falling below .500 and losing ground in the tight AFC playoff race.

Carolina will look to utilize its ascending defense against Jay Cutler and Miami’s struggling offense.

The Panthers surrender just 274.1 yards per game, which is tops in the NFL while the Dolphins average a league-worst 14.5 points per game.

Cutler has been much better of late after joining Miami during training camp following the season-ending knee injury to Ryan Tannehill.

Over his last two games, Cutler has completed 46 of 58 passes for 449 yards and five touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 120.5 during that span.

Head coach Adam Gase has noticed his offense slowly coming around, with several positives to take from Miami’s 27-24 loss to Oakland last Sunday and the week of practice that preceded it.

“I saw improvement over the last few weeks,” Gase said earlier this week. “Really it was last week. It was a big jump [from] that Thursday game [against Baltimore] to this last game [against Oakland]. We’ve got some things to clean up, which we’re always going to have; but if we just keep finding ways to get better, it will fall the right way for us.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Dolphins WR DeVante Parker returned from an ankle injury to make five catches for 76 yards last week against the Raiders.  He and quarterback Jay Cutler have showed signs of developing a nice rapport so a healthy Parker can go a long way for Miami’s offense.

Miami will get safety T.J. McDonald in the lineup for the first time this season following his eight-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy while still a member of the Rams. McDonald should provide an instant boost to the Dolphins secondary.

Carolina rookie running back Christian McCaffrey is coming of his best ground game of the season, picking up 66 yards and his first rushing touchdown last week against Atlanta. McCaffrey has been more of a threat as a pass-catcher, already with 54 receptions for 406 yards and two scores.

GAME NOTES

  • Carolina is second in the NFL with 29 sacks.
  • The Panthers are 6-3 in franchise history when hosting Monday Night Football.
  • After recording zero sacks during the first three weeks of the season, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has 3.5 over Miami’s past five games.
  • Always effective on the ground, Panthers QB Cam Newton has rushed for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns this season, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
  • This will be the Dolphins 83rd time playing on Monday Night Football. They are 41-41 all-time.
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