Indianapolis Colts @ Miami Dolphins
Sun Life Stadium – Miami Gardens, Florida
Sunday, December 27
1:00 PM E.T. on FOX
What To Watch For:
Last week the Dolphins faced one of the worst teams in the entire NFL. The San Diego Chargers (3-10) had gone three straight games without scoring a touchdown. They hadn’t scored a rushing touchdown since week 1, and they had only accumulated one field goal over their previous three games. Needless to say, the Dolphins should have easily won Sunday’s contest. Instead, they found themselves down 23-0 at halftime. An astonishing deficit considering San Diego’s lack of production through November and early December. Granted, Philip Rivers was back in action. However, Rivers wasn’t solely responsible for 5’8, 200 lb. Danny Woodhead absolutely obliterating Miami’s defense with 4 touchdowns.
In last week’s preview article, I sarcastically poked fun at the fact that the Dolphins typically do the exact opposite of what they should do. I explained how the Chargers were 27th in run defense and were giving up 126 rushing yards per game through their previous four games. I detailed how Miami could win the game through a very basic ground and pound game plan. Then I concluded the article stating that Miami would likely do the exact opposite and primarily pass, leading them to fall behind, which would then force them to pass even more to keep up. As much as I would like to take credit for predicting the poor decision making of this Dolphins coaching staff, in reality, it is what all Dolphins fans have come to expect from this team. The first half stats from Sunday’s game tell the entire story. (See below)
In the “Six Keys to Victory” portion of last week’s preview article I noted: “Don’t overthink the game plan- RUN the ball”. Despite the Chargers having one of the league’s worst run defenses, the Dolphins instead took the ball to the air. The Dolphins have one of the league’s most productive running backs in terms of yards per carry in Lamar Miller (4.8 yards). The Chargers have one of the league’s worst run defenses (currently ranked 27th). Yet the Dolphins only ran the ball 15 times, with Miller receiving just 9 of those 15 carries. In an incredibly ironic twist, the Chargers who are ranked 31st in rushing came out and ran the ball right at Miami. The Chargers finished the game with 27 rushing attempts for 131 yards, dominating Miami on the ground.
What does this tell us about this week’s matchup vs the Colts? That regardless of how poor Indianapolis defense is in certain areas, Miami will likely come up with an illogical strategy that causes them to lose despite how many holes this Colts defense has. What do we suggest? The same thing we’ve been suggesting for 3 months- RUN THE BALL! Trust Lamar Miller and lean more on rookie, Jay Ajayi. This Colts defense gives up an average of 123.8 rushing yards per game. So we’re right back where we were last week. The only question is, will Miami actually start to exploit their opponents’ weakness for once? Only time will tell.
Defense/ Special Teams:
As previously noted, the 31st ranked run offense (Chargers) came out and ran for 131 yards on this Dolphins defense. Therefore, considering how many injuries Indianapolis is dealing with at the quarterback position it is no secret that they will lean on their run game. Quarterback, Andrew Luck and backup QB, Matt Hasselbeck are both dealing with injuries that have them questionable for Sunday’s contest. If Danny Woodhead was able to pop off four touchdowns against this Dolphins defense, watch for Frank Gore to have himself a field-day on Sunday.
If the Dolphins hope to have any chance at winning this game they absolutely must shut down Frank Gore. If the Colts come out and establish their run game early and Miami isn’t able to slow it down, the Colts should win by double digits. The Dolphins must force the Colts to beat them through the air. This is how they were able to squeak out a 15-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens in week 13. An injury to Flacco forced Matt Schaub in to the starting lineup. Added pressure to Schaub combined with an inability to run the ball, allowed Miami to wreak havoc on Schaub and ultimately caused him to throw the game away.
Six Keys To Victory:
- RUN THE BALL! Lamar Miller needs 20+ carries
- Utilize Devante Parker and Kenny Stills more in offense
- Offensive line has been a complete joke. Must improve to win Sunday
- Linebackers must fill gaps, this issue has yet to be addressed (been an issue since preseason)
- Shut down Frank Gore (failure to do so will result in a loss)
- Ndamukong Suh and Brent Grimes must re-emerge in order to lift up this defense as a unit
Dolphins 27 – Colts 17