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The Miami Dolphins will try to even their record at 3-3 on Sunday when they face the St. Louis Rams. Both teams find themselves a game out of first place in their respective divisions after finishing in the cellar last season.
Across the sideline from Miami coach Joe Philbin will be Jeff Fisher, whom the Dolphins tried to hire last offseason before he took the St. Louis job. "I just felt like this was a better opportunity for me," Fisher said this week. "I think they made the right decision. They've got things going."
"We've got a ton of work to do, and we're hopefully going to improve as the year goes on," Philbin said of his first season in Miami. "I'm enjoying every minute of it."
When the Dolphins have the ball: After struggling in a season-opening loss, rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has become more and more like the passer the Dolphins hoped they were getting with the 8th pick in the 2012 draft. Though still prone to make a mistake (he has 6 interceptions against just 2 touchdowns), Tannehill has topped a 60% completion rate in each of the past two games.
While Tannehill has gotten better with time, RB Reggie Bush has seen his production drop off, due in large part to a lingering knee injury. His backup Daniel Thomas is out with a concussion, so rookie Lamar Miller could see more carries in relief this week.
The Rams are middle-of-the-pack in yardage allowed on the ground and through the air. DEs Robert Quinn and Chris Long are wreaking havoc, combining for 9 sacks in 5 games. CB Cortland Finnegan has three interceptions, he will be tasked with covering Miami WR Brian Hartline (who leads the team with 514 yards receiving).
When the Bengals have the ball: The Rams' offense has been among the worst in the NFL this season, averaging just 4.8 yards per play and scoring 19.2 points per game. That could play right into the hands of the Dolphins, whose stout run defense has been the best in the NFL in 2012. Three-time Pro Bowl RB Stephen Jackson is gaining only 3.5 yards a carry, well off his career average of 4.2.
Former first overall draft pick Sam Bradford leads the Rams' passing attack, but he'll be without leading WR Danny Amendola, who injured his collarbone last week. Even with Amendola in the line-up, Bradford has struggled this season, completing only 58% of his passes with 6 touchdowns against 5 interceptions.
Miami will be without starting CB Richard Marshall for the second straight week, with Nolan Carroll getting another start. LB Kevin Burnett was limited in Friday's practice, he is questionable with an ankle injury on Sunday.
Who has the edge? Miami's run defense tends to be overshadowed by its pass defense, giving up the most yards through the air in the NFL. But St. Louis is one of the few teams in the league not equipped to take advantage of Miami's secondary, giving the Dolphins an advantage this week.
The pick: Dolphins 24-Rams 13
Details: St. Louis Rams (3-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-3)
TV: Fox, 1 p.m., Chris Myers, Tim Ryan
Line: Miami by 4.5
Previously: Miami won 16-12 in 2008