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The Miami Dolphins will try to break a two-game losing streak when they visit the AFC Central-leading Cincinnati Bengals. Win and the Dolphins can keep pace with their AFC East rivals, all of whom sit at 2-2.
But lose, and the Dolphins' chances at making the playoffs become all the more slim. After letting fourth-quarter leads slip away in two straight games, the Dolphins can ill afford another slip-up against the Bengals, who have made the playoffs in two of the past three seasons.
When the Dolphins have the ball: In terms of yardage, the Dolphins have a top 10 offense, but turnovers, sacks, and other miscues have prevented Miami from converting those yards into points. The Bengals, meanwhile, have feasted on opponents' mistakes, leading the NFL with 17 sacks.
Ryan Tannehill has continued to show signs of growth, throwing for 431 yards against Arizona last week, but has struggled with interceptions (6) and a low completion percentage (55.9 percent, better than only five other starting QBs).
But the Dolphins will look to the ground to beat the Bengals, who are giving up the most yards per carry in the NFL (5.3). Miami RB Reggie Bush says he is feeling better since leaving the Jets game before halftime with a knee injury. The Dolphins' 5th-ranked rushing attack will be key to their chances at winning.
When the Bengals have the ball: Second-year QB Andy Dalton keys a Bengals aerial attack that is eighth in the NFL in yardage. Completing 67.5 percent of his passes with 8 touchdowns, Dalton and WR AJ Green have formed one of the top passing combos in the NFL.
They will test the Dolphins, who have the third-worst pass defense in the NFL. Compounding matters will be the absence of starting CB Richard Marshall, out with a back injury. The Bengals have averaged 33 points a game since losing in Week 1 to the Ravens 44-13.
Last week the Dolphins were able to contain Arizona's passing game with constant pressure on the quarterback. DE Cameron Wake finished with 4.5 sacks, a career high, while Sean Smith capitalized on the QB pressure with two interceptions. Miami will need a similar effort if they want to slow down Dalton and the Bengals.
Who has the edge? The Bengals have given up 12 sacks, meaning Miami has a chance to keep Dalton on his back (and his passes out of the end zone). If the Dolphins can limit turnovers, this is a winnable road game. Problem is, Miami has done that in only one of four games so far this season.
The pick: Bengals 28-Dolphins 17
Details: Miami Dolphins (1-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
TV: CBS, 1 p.m., Marv Albert, Rich Gannon
Line: Bengals by 3
Previously: Miami won 22-14 at Cincinnati in 2010