Cincinnati Bengals (6-2 SU, 5-2-1 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
NFL Week 9
Date and Time: Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 8:25 p.m. EST
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
TV: NFL/DTV 212
by Vesper Abadon, Pro Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cin -1.5/Mia +1.5
Over/Under Total: 42
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Remember back in 2007 when the Miami Dolphins unveiled the Wildcat against the New England Patriots at Foxborough? The Fins thoroughly embarrassed the Patriots in a 38-13 win, which was the last time they won the road against their division foes. This past Sunday, there was another embarrassment at Gillette Stadium, but this time it was the Dolphins embarrassing themselves in a big way.
Up 17-3 in the first half, the Dolphins held the Patriots to just 59 yards through two quarters of play. They seemed primed to win and make a run at the AFC title, and then two things happened. First, quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked for the first time in the game. Second, kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a field goal shortly thereafter. That was the turning point. Instead of being up three scores, the Dolphins gave the ball back to the Patriots, who promptly tied things up in just seven plays! The Fins continued to flounder and ended up losing the game 27-17 – becoming the first team since 2002 to start 3-0 only to drop their next four games.
Likewise, there was another drumming on when the Cincinnati Bengals trounced the New York Jets 49-9. Quarterback Andy Dalton threw a career-high five touchdown passes, four of which went to Marvin Jones, who set a team record for touchdown receptions. The five-touchdown performance by Dalton made him the first quarterback to throw for so many against the Jets since Dan Marino did is way back in 1988.
This week on the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football the Bengals will travel to South Florida to take on the Dolphins. It’s fitting that it’ll take place on Halloween as the Bengals are bound to feast on the Fins.
The reasons for this are aplenty. The 6-2 Bengals have won four in a row and have a nice lead in the AFC North, while the Dolphins have dropped four in a row and essentially fallen out of the Playoff race (it may be too early to say that, but there’s just one Wildcard spot up for grabs considering the Chiefs and Broncos are essential locks for one in the AFC West). Clearly momentum is with the Bengals, but to top it off they’re far and away the better team.
The Bengals are currently the ninth-ranked offense in the league – averaging 369.6 yards per game (YPG) – while the Dolphins are a lowly 28th averaging 311 YPG. The Bengals rank 7th and 19th for passing and rushing respectively, while the Dolphins are 18th and 23rd.
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On the ground, the two teams are remarkably similar. Both utilize a committee (BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard for the Bengals; Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas for the Dolphins), and their stats are on par with one another. Where the Bengals have differentiated themselves is through the air. Dalton has gone 164 of 249 for 1,924 yards, 11 touchdowns, and six interceptions, which makes him the 11th-ranked QB in the league with a 93.9 rating. Meanwhile, Tannehill has gone 133 of 219 for 1,577 yards nine touchdowns, and seven interceptions – he’s also been sacked a NFL-high 26 times.
Defensively, the Bengals are once again superior. They’re ranked 8th in the league holding opponents to an average of 322.5 YPG and 18 points per game. On the other hand, the Dolphins are ranked 20th and allow an average of 355 YPG and 23.9 points.
Vesper’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: It’s hard not to feel bad for the Dolphins. Their 3-0 start gave them a great shot at making a Playoff run, but now the losses just keep coming. What makes it worse is that the Fins really should have won three of the games that they lost (Ravens, Bills and Patriots). Their team mentality needs to change from “let’s just try to hang in there” to “let’s go for the jugular.” Unfortunately they’re not there yet. Instead, they keep finding ways to lose.
Cincinnati is undoubtedly playing better than the Phins right now but there's going to be a spooky result on Halloween night! Playing on the road on 3 days rest and going from 60 degree weather to 85 degree weather is brutal! Take the Phins to win an ugly game.
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