Tough sledding ahead for Dolphins

MIAMI -- If the Miami Dolphins cannot beat the lowly Buffalo Bills at home with a third-string quarterback, how can they thrive in the next two games facing the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals?

Miami will face two potential playoff teams with combined 10-4 records in a span of five days. It starts next week when the Dolphins (3-3) travel to Foxborough to play the Patriots (5-2), who are in first place in the AFC East. Miami then will have a quick turnaround on Thursday Oct. 31 to host the Bengals, who are in first place in the AFC North.

The Dolphins are on a three-game losing streak, had two weeks to prepare for the Bills with unknown quarterback Thad Lewis and still laid an egg.

It is now fair to question Miami’s confidence. The swagger that was in the locker room at 3-0 was completely gone on Sunday. Will the Dolphins work out of this funk or continue their downward spiral?

“I believe in the guys in the locker room,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “I believe they will come to work this week, and we will have an excellent week of preparation. We will play a very good football team, and I’m confident we will do that.”

It won’t be easy turn things around against the Patriots in Week 8. New England swept the Dolphins in two meetings last season. The Patriots also are coming off a tough overtime loss to the New York Jets and won’t be happy.

The Dolphins certainly have a lot more questions than answers as they approach the midpoint of the season.

“We have to put ourselves in the best situation to win out these games and finish games to try to achieve what we’re trying to achieve, which is try to get into the playoffs,” Dolphins cornerback Dimitri Patterson said. “If this was Week 12, that’s a different story. But the fact that we have 10 more games left, everybody should still be in the mindset where we can get back on the right track like we started the season.”