South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday)
DOLPHINS GAMEDAY Who has the edge? Dolphins vs. Bengals
Whenthe Dolphins run: The Dolphins are looking for a clearNo. 1 running back to finish this season. Leading rusherMyles Gaskin (knee) isworking hisway back after a month off. Rookie SalvonAhmedis dealing with a recent shoulder injury. De Andre Washington, who finished the Jets game last week, is dealing with a hamstring strain. Veteran Matt Breida hasn’t hadmany opportunities and had a fumble lastweek against the Jets. As did second-year back Patrick Laird, whosparingly has opportunities on offense. Whichever player steps up should dowell against theBengals, whogive up the third-most rushing yards per game this season. Edge: Dolphins.
Whenthe Bengals run: Lead back Joe Mixon (right foot) will miss his third game on injured reserve, and the Bengals rushing attack has suffered in his absence. Giovani Bernard, the former St. ThomasAquinas standout, had 32 yards in his last outing against the Giants lastweek. No Bengals player had more than 20 yards rushing in the game before that. The Dolphins defense, 26th in theNFLin rushing yards allowed, could see a boost in that regard in Sunday’s game. Edge: Dolphins.
Whenthe Dolphins pass: The Dolphins hopeTua Tag ovai lo a( left thumb) canmake his return to the starting lineup after an ideal practice week. Tagovailoa has completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 602 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions in four starts, and hopes to rebound from his last game against the DenverBroncos, where he was sacked six times and threwfor just 83 yards in a loss. IfTagovailoa is unable to play, the Dolphins will return to veteranRyan Fitzpatrick, whothrewtwo touchdowns lastweek against the Jets. Either quarterback should do enough to beat the Bengals, who are 22nd in scoring defense (26.3 points) and 26th in yards allowed (390.5 per game) and playing with a backup quarterback. Edge: Dolphins
Whenthe Bengals pass: WithNo.
1 pick JoeBurrowout for the season after a major knee injury, the Bengals have named former practice squader Brandon Allen as theirnewstarting quarterback. Allenwas as 17 of 29 for
136 yardswith one touchdown, one interception and a lost fumble on the Bengals’ final drive in their loss to the Giants lastweek. And he’ll face the Dolphins defense, which has confused inexperienced quarterbacks all season. The Dolphins are second giving up just 18.6 points per game despite ranking 20th with 369.6 yards allowed per game this season. Edge: Dolphins.
Special teams: The Dolphins and Bengals are considered two of the top special teams units in theNFLwith this third phase of the game expected to play a major factor in Sunday’s outcome. The Dolphins have relied on kicker Jason Sanders to be automatic, punterMattHaack to flip field position and returner JakeemGrant, who scored a return touchdownthis season, to gain yards before drives. TheBengals, who areTop 10 in kick and punt return yards and punting average, have also depended on big plays like BrandonWilson’s 103-yard kick return five minutes into lastweek’s game. Sanders, whomissed just one field goal this season, gives Miami an edge. Edge: Dolphins.
Intangibles: Dolphins coach Brian Flores is making serious headway during his second season ofMiami’s rebuild with his team sitting second in theAFCEast and in sixth place in theAFCstandings, in line for a wildcard playoffspot. If the Dolphins are can win at least three of their final five games, they couldmake the playoffs for the third time since the 2001 season. Stopping the Bengals, whoare starting a backup quarterbackwould be a nice start. Bengals coach ZacTaylor, a former Dolphins quarterback coach, is 4-22-1, while Flores holds a 12-15 record since bothwere hired during the 2019 offseason. The Dolphins havewon 12 of their last 20 games, including 9 of the last 13. Edge: Dolphins.
Prediction: Dolphins 27, Bengals 3.