Miami Dolphins (3-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)
The Miami Dolphins haven’t beaten the Cincinnati Bengals in over 10 years (their last win came on October 1, 2000), but this Sunday could be the time for the Fish to bump that slump.
Seeing the Bengals run defense this weekend will be a sight for sore Dolphin eyes. Miami has not had an easy go of it lately on the ground — they’ve just finished up a three-game set against the Jets, Patriots and Steelers, three of the best run defenses in the league — but should be able to get both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams on track against Cincy. The Bengals were flattened by Atlanta on Sunday — Cincinnati gave up 452 yards, 153 of it on the ground on 30 rushes. For the season the Bengals have allowed 4.5 yards per carry on average, 22nd-best in the NFL. The Miami offense should be churning out the yards on Sunday.
Defensively, though, things won’t be as easy for the Fish. They’ll have to be aware of Cincy’s big-strike offense. Miami didn’t do a great job of shutting down Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger last week (302 yards, two TDs) and this week they get rejuvenated Cincy QB Carson Palmer and his gang of high-flying WRs. The three-headed monster — Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley — has been especially good of late: Owens has with 26 catches for 412 yards and three TDs in three October games (after 152 yards and no TDs in his first three games), Ochocinco emerged from a four-game slump (157 yards , 0 TDs) with a 10-catch, 108-yard effort in Atlanta and Shipley broke out with 131 yards on six catches against the Falcons.
Washington Redskins (4-3) at Detroit Lions (1-5)
The big story in this one is the return of Detroit’s sophomore QB, Matthew Stafford. Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick at the 2009 NFL Draft, has missed the last five games due to a right shoulder separation and his return couldn’t come at a better time — backup Shaun Hill broke his forearm against the Giants two weeks ago. Hill had performed admirably in relief of Stafford and got the Lions offense humming (one of the highest-scoring teams in the NFC), so the hope is that Stafford comes in and the offense doesn’t skip a beat.
As for the Redskins, expect all eyes — especially Stafford’s — to be on CB DeAngelo Hall. Hall tied a NFL record on Sunday with four interceptions against Chicago, one of which was returned for a TD. It’ll be interesting to see who Hall is matched up with in terms of Lions WRs; if he draws the assignment of handling Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, one has to wonder how often Stafford will throw his way. The entire Lions’ passing game is predicated on Johnson’s big-play ability, but that’s not to say Stafford doesn’t have other good receiving options, most notably Nate Burleson. If Burleson can take advantage of a suspect matchup with Washington’s other cornerback (Philip Buchanon, who used to play for Detroit), then the Lions could have a huge ace up their collective sleeve.