The Atlanta Falcons are expected to be a Super Bowl contender, but it's the Miami Dolphins who take a perfect record into the teams' matchup Sunday in South Florida. The Dolphins haven't started 3-0 since 2002 but have a chance to change that in their home opener after impressive wins at Cleveland and Indianapolis to start the season. The Falcons opened the season with a disappointing 23-17 loss at New Orleans but rebounded to beat St. Louis 31-24 last week.
Atlanta will be short-handed on both sides of the ball, as linebackers Kroy Biermann (Achilles) and Sean Weatherspoon (foot) and fullback Bradie Ewing (shoulder) were placed on injured reserve and running back Steven Jackson (hamstring) won't play Sunday. Cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh) and receiver Roddy White (ankle) also were held out of practice Wednesday. The absence of Jackson, along with a revamped offensive line, could be a concern for Atlanta against a Miami team that is tied for the league lead with nine sacks.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Dolphins -1. O/U: 44.5.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (1-1): After being held to 17 points in the opener, Atlanta's offense rebounded against St. Louis but was still too one-dimensional. The Falcons had only 36 rushing yards and have to rely on backups Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling to improve upon that. The defense has given up big chunks of yards but has limited the damage on the scoreboard, although the rash of injuries on that side of the ball leave numerous questions going into Sunday.
ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (2-0): Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill appears to be maturing, as he recorded his second career 300-yard passing game in a 24-20 win against the Colts, leaning on receiver Mike Wallace (nine catches, 115 yards, TD) and tight end Charles Clay (five catches, 109 yards). The Dolphins still need more out of running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, neither of whom is averaging more than three yards per carry. After a dominant performance against the Browns, the defense was less impressive against the Colts and the secondary will be challenged by Atlanta's passing game.
1. The Falcons are 33-1 when QB Matt Ryan starts and has a rating of 100 or better.
2. Miami rookie Caleb Sturgis is 4-for-4 in field goals, including a 54-yarder against Indianapolis. Only two players have made more field goals without a miss this season - Greg Zuerlein of St. Louis (5) and Dan Bailey of Dallas (6).
3. The Falcons have won three of the past four meetings, including a 19-7 home win in the most recent contest in 2009.
PREDICTION: Falcons 27, Dolphins 21