At 6-2, the Bengals are currently in control in the AFC North. If they are going to stay there, winning on the road will be key. Cincinnati will be challenged on the road this week, traveling to Miami to play the Dolphins on a short week.
The Bengals have won four straight games and are coming off a 49-9 blowout win against the Jets. The win against New York was Cincinnati's first blowout win of the year. All seven of its previous games were decided by 11 points or less. The Bengals lost their first two road games of the season, but have now won back-to-back games away from home.
While Cincinnati is on the rise, the Dolphins' season has gone the opposite direction. Miami has lost four straight games after a 3-0 start. Miami is just 1-2 at home this season, but its three home games have been decided by a total of nine points.
Meet the Dolphins
Miami is 3-4 on the season, but only one of those games was decided by more than 13 points. Miami opened the season with a pair of close wins and its luck has changed recently. Its last three losses have been decided by a total of 15 points.
Ryan Tannehill's play has also dropped off recently. Tannehill completed more than 65 percent of his passes in the first four games of the season. His completion percentage dropped to 52 percent in the last three games. Turnovers are another issue, he has a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio in wins. That ratio drops to 1:1 in losses.
The Dolphins' issues haven't only been on the offensive side. The defense ranks near the bottom-third of the league in a number of defensive categories including pass defense, run defense and scoring.
Meet the Bengals
Following back-to-back sloppy performances in Weeks 4 and 5, some were questioning Cincinnati's offense. Despite plenty of talent, the Bengals scored six points in a loss to Cleveland and 13 points in a narrow win against New England. Whatever issues the Bengals had then, seemed to be resolved now. Cincinnati has scored at least 27 points in its last three games, including the 49-point outburst.
A.J. Green is having another excellent season with 46 catches for 734 yards through eight games. He has nearly twice as many receiving yards as the next closest Bengal. Cincinnati's biggest weakness on offense is in the running game. The Bengals are averaging just 3.6 yards per carry as a team. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is averaging 3.2 YPC while rookie Giovani Bernard has been slightly better at 3.9 YPC.
Despite having a winning record, Cincinnati has a minus-1 turnover differential.
Local Takes: Miami
Tight end Charles Clay took 67 snaps, or 85% of the offensive plays, while Dion Sims took 29. Maybe one of the most interesting uses of players this week was Michael Egnew, who repeatedly played fullback, and was effective as a lead blocker. Egnew made 19 appearances during the game.
Local Takes: Cincinnati
Asking him to, or any quarterback in the NFL, to sustain the type of production that he's turned over the past three games would be ridiculous. So if someone smarter than I can discover a formula that weighs his recent production for a greater projection without completing disregarding the first five games, by all means.
Regardless, Dalton is playing lights out currently ranked fourth in the NFL with 2,249 yards passing and tied for fourth with 16 touchdowns thrown.
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Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, The Phinsider and Cincy Jungle, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
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@ArmandoSalguero -- Dolphins writer
The interesting thing to me is when Dion Jordan has gotten chances this year he has made some impact. He makes plays.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) October 29, 2013
@joereedy -- Bengals writer
Your other HUGE stat of the day -- 15 TDs in 21 red zone trips. The 71.4 percent puts them second in the league behind Denver— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) October 28, 2013
Miami and Cincinnati have both played a lot of close games this season. That could be the case again this week, especially with the teams playing on a short week. The difference between the teams could be at quarterback. While Dalton is playing the best football of his career, Tannehill has hit a rough patch.
The Bengals also have the benefit of having the better defense, a significant advantage with the defensive nature Thursday night games tend to be. Dalton and Green have been a dynamic duo recently and that will likely continue this week.
Miami opened as a 1-point favorite, but the line has shifted in Cincinnati's favor since, according to OddsShark.com. The Bengals are a 3-point favorite according to the latest odds from Bovada.