Big Cats Ready To Strike

Image courtesy of Lyons/Getty Images
Andy Dalton has thrown three straight 300-yard games. Image courtesy of Lyons/Getty Images
After sneaking past the Patriots, Bills and Lions, the Bengals flexed their impressive muscle in Week 8 by crushing the New York Jets 49-9 . It’s still early days, but halfway through the season Cincy looks as though it’s some chance of reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988. Andy Dalton has thrown three successive 300-yard games and on the other side of the ball, the defence is letting in just 18 points per game, good enough for fifth in the league.

On Friday morning the big cats travel to South Beach to take on a Miami team which started the season red-hot, but comes in to this game on the back of a four-game losing streak. The run should have been snapped last weekend, but the Dolphins gave up a 17-0 lead over New England to go down 27-17 . In Weeks 5 and 7 they dropped heartbreakers at home to Baltimore and Buffalo by three and two points, respectively.

Led by Geno Atkins, the Bengals pass rush could make life tough for Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill if he doesn’t get better protection from his offensive line. The second-year man has been dumped 32 times this season, while Cincy’s defence has 22 sacks to its credit as a unit so far in eight games. With in-form wide receiver Brandon Gibson out for the season with a knee injury, expect tight end Charles Clay to feature more prominently.

The intriguing part of this game will be seeing Dalton and his receivers go up against a Miami ‘D’ that’s allowing just seven yards per pass this year and has conceded just nine touchdowns through the air to date. The Dolphins are only average against the run, though, so Bengal backs Giovani Bernard and Benjarvus Green-Ellis might see some more action. In saying that, Dalton hit Marvin Jones for four TDs against the Jets, so he might stick with his tried and tested formula.

Miami has won just 10 of its last 19 games at Sun Life Stadium. It has won 11 of its last 13 against the Bengals, though, including back-to-back wins in Ohio; a 17-13 victory last season was preceded by a 22-14 triumph in 2010.

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