Tale Of The Tape: Cincinnati Bengals At Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackThe Bengals have played decent football this year, but if they are going to assert themselves in the second half of the season, they need Andy Dalton play like he did in Week Eight when he threw five TD passes in the rout of the New York Jets. Dalton has the tools to get there because he reads defenses well and can find the open receiver.Ryan Tannehill has had some moments where he has been razor sharp, but he has lacked consistency and growth. Tannehill has an excellent feel for short- and medium-range passes and his confidence grows when he can make a big play while on the run. However, he will miss some wide open receivers and that’s a problem for a team that has been trying to climb the ladder.
- OffenseThe Bengals have an excellent mix on the offensive side of the ball. Running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovanni Bernard complement each other well and take some of the heat off Dalton. A.J. Green is one of the most talented receivers in the game and can dominate a game if he catches a key pass early in the game. Tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham are solid targets.The Dolphins don’t have an explosive offense. Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller are hard-trying backs, but it will be tough to gain interior rushing yards against the Bengals. Brian Hartline knows how to get open and keep drives alive, but deep threat Mike Wallace is not consistent enough. The Miami offensive line has played ordinary football in recent weeks.
- DefenseThe Bengals are tough, strong and aggressive. They would like to punish the Dolphins with some big hits early in the game that could intimidate the hosts. Defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko lead an interior run defense that is one of the best in the game. Outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict has a team-high 74 tackles and four passes defensed.The Dolphins have been solid most of the year on defense and that’s because they are well-coached and usually in the proper position. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler has a team-high 43 tackles and three passes defensed. The Dolphins will need to put a strong pass rush on Dalton to have a chance in this game, and defensive end Olivier Vernon (3.5 sacks) is their most productive sacker.
- Special TeamsThe Bengals have been solid in their punt and kickoff coverage this year, but head coach Marvin Lewis has not gotten any big plays from his return specialists. Placekicker Mike Nugent is a decent placekicker, but he is not elite. Punter Kevin Huber is a solid directional kicker.The Dolphins have not allowed any big plays on punt or kickoff returns, but Marcus Thigpen does not appear to be much of a threat to return one a long way, either. Caleb Sturgis has a strong leg and has been a reliable placekicker for the Dolphins.
The Bengals have most of the edges, but they are coming off a hard-hitting game against the Jets and have a short week as they go on the road. This looks like a game the home team could steal, especially if they can force Dalton into mistakes. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor