BENGALS (6-2) AT DOLPHINS (3-4)
The Dolphins’ eighth prime-time Thursday game and first at home since 2010 finds two teams at the extremes. Cincinnati and hot QB Andy Dalton have won four in a row coming off a 49-9 spank of the Jets, while reeling Miami dropped its fourth in a row last week in that embarrassing collapse of 24 consecutive points allowed at New England. Now Miami is burdened by the added distractions of center Mike Pouncey being subpoenaed in the Aaron Hernandez case and Jonathan Martin leaving the team reportedly for emotional treatment and counseling — the last thing this struggling club needs. Yes, there is every reason here to like the visiting Bengals. So why does my gut feeling keep pointing the other way? Some of it is simply that Miami is home and far more desperate. Some of it is the plain law of averages. I mean, can Ryan Turnoverhill possibly keep being this mistake-prone? And some of it is Xs and Os stuff. For instance, I think Miami should be able to run the ball on a Cincy defense likely missing middle linebacker Ray Maualuga. So, Happy Halloween, Dolfans. Your players have been masquerading as a bad team too long. Thursday they go trick-or-treating as playoff contenders again.