Free NFL Picks: Miami at Cincinnati 10-31-2010

October 28, 2010

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Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday October 31st, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Cincinnati -2

Overview:

The 3-3 Miami Dolphins travel to Cincinnati to take on the 2-4 Bengals. The Dolphins have shown promise lately, being one controversial call away from knocking off the Steelers last week. As it stands, the Dolphins have three losses, but they have come against arguably the three best teams in the league; the Jets, Steelers, and Patriots. The Bengals, on the other hand, looked like they were going to be a force once again in the AFC North, after knocking off the Baltimore Ravens in week two. They are 1-1 at home, but have looked miserable for the second half of the year. The Dolphins haven’t lost to a team this season that has had a losing record, so this might not be as close as anticipated.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Bengals will go as far as Carson Palmer will take them, which so far has been nowhere. The Bengals rank 6th in passing yards in the NFL, but that has nothing to do with the way Carson Palmer is throwing the ball. In Palmer’s last outing against the Bengals, we saw a glimmer of what Palmer used to be. It is unclear what has made him so off target. Chad Ocho Cinco and Terrell Owens have had to fight for every pass. Palmer has been one of the most on target quarterbacks in the NFL since he came into the league. What is going on is unclear, but hopefully the game in Atlanta is the start of a recovery for Palmer’s season.
  • Miami finally has a top ten receiver, but Brandon Marshall isn’t the only Dolphins wide receiver who has been making noise. Davone Bess has been quietly hauling in 5 1/3 catches a game. Marshall is having a fantastic year, but Bess is seeing the benefits from having the focus taken off of him. I don’t see him as being a 100 catch guy this season, but grabbing 85 or so passes makes him a huge contributor to this offense. The Dolphins haven’t had a 1-2 receiver tandem like this since the Marks brothers, which has to be exciting for Miami. Chad Henne has performed considerably well given his skill set, but if the Dolphins end up getting an upper echelon quarterback in the near future, they could make a serious run in their division. They already have a franchise left tackle, a solid run game and an elite receiver. Miami might not be there yet, but they are going to be soon.
  • The Bengals are 25th in the league in points allowed. Their offense isn’t clicking well enough to win consistently and allow 23.5 yards a game. The Bengals have a solid linebacker corp, but teams are running the ball at will. Part of this may be limited talent, especially at DB, but part of it seems to be desire. This same Bengals defense ranked 4th in the league last year in points allowed. With Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones on the IR, the Bengals are going to struggle even more. Marvin Lewis is supposed to be a defensive mastermind. Let’s see it.
  • Miami may seem like a middle of the road football team defensively, but make no mistake about it, all eleven guys come to play on every snap. The Dolphins defensive numbers are deflated by their outings against the Patriots and Jets, but the Dolphins have been stout defensively. At times, the Dolphins play down to their competition on both sides of the ball, but they have guys on defense that have played lights out to come away with a victory. Up front, Cameron Wake has already racked up 6.5 sacks. He is having a break out year and will probably make the Pro Bowl this year. Vontae Davis and Jason Allen both show promise at DB, though at times we see breakdowns in coverage. Allen is performing significantly better than last year and Davis is still young, so the errors he makes are correctable. The Dolphins acquired Karlos Dansby this year, who is quickly becomming one of the faces of their defense. Like their offense, the Dolphins have a lot to build around on the defensive side of the ball. The Tuna may have skipped town, but his fingerprints are all over this franchise.

Wrap Up:

The Bengals and the Dolphins are difficult for Vegas to read. They only made the Dolphins three point underdogs against the Steelers and they covered the spread last week. This week, the follow up with the 2-4 Bengals and are the underdog by two points. It is as though odds makers want to believe in the Bengals. Coming into the year, I thought Cincinnati could compete for a Wild Card spot, but it’s like nobody on their team wants it. The Dolphins on the other hand, have made it clear that they compete at all times. Like the Chargers last week, there is not reason the Bengals should be favored in this one. Easy pick.

Free NFL Pick: Miami +2


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