1 The Dolphins’ center against Geno Atkins: Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis says defensive tackle Geno Atkins is playing well so far this season, which is terrible news for the Dolphins because they have an uncertain center situation. Starter Mike Pouncey is not playing and backup Anthony Steen is dealing with an ankle injury. And so it will either be a limping Steen or third-stringer Kraig Urbik starting every Dolphins play with one of the NFL’s best tackles lined up in front of him.
2 Will the Miami defensive linemen recognize pass or run well enough? One of the problems the Dolphins defense is enduring now is linemen have been taught to attack upfield and took that lesson to heart. Except they seemed to miss the part about doing so with discipline so as to be in the right gaps in case the offense is running the ball. Failing to properly recognize runs has cost the Dolphins up front.
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3 What does the Miami defense look like against a good NFL starting QB? The Dolphins have been lucky in that they’ve faced a healthy NFL starting QB for exactly one half of football so far this year. They didn’t see New England’s starter at all, and in fact played the third-stringer for a half. Cleveland played its third-stringer the whole game. And Russell Wilson played the second half of the Seattle game with a sprained ankle. So what happens if Andy Dalton stays healthy all game?
4 Can Ryan Tannehill deliver two halves of football? He hasn’t done that yet this season. He was great at the end of the Seattle game. He was great in the second half of the New England and Cleveland games. But early in those games, Tannehill has not been good. Indeed, Tannehill’s QB rating in the second half of games is 114.9 this season. His first half QB rating is 58.5.
5 Will the Dolphins take advantage of the Bengals’ deep secondary? Cincinnati allowed six passes of 40 yards or more last year. They gave up two last week to the Denver Broncos and that’s the reason they lost the game. So it bears watching to see if the Dolphins can duplicate that kind of deep passing prowess, using deep threats DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills.