In this week’s match-up the dismal Miami Dolphins host the solid Pittsburgh Steelers. In five weeks of football both teams are looking like complete opposites of each other. The Dolphins are 1-4 and the Steelers are 4-1. Pittsburgh is king in the AFC North for the time being and Miami is last in the AFC East. I’m sure fans of Miami have been quick to write this game off as another loss, but I’m here to say that the Dolphins actually have the ability to pull off an upset due to a couple of interesting factors coming into this game.
Factor #1: Offensive Line
When one talks about conspiracy theories, Ryan Tannehill’s production (or lack thereof) in relation to the offensive line’s terrible performance, probably tops the list. Sorry Area 51, UFOs and aliens are pretty controversial but nothing tops a fifth year quarterback that continues to be defended by the fan base and his head coach despite not being able to muster up no more than six passing touchdowns in five games with a wide receiver group that includes Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker.
If the offensive line truly has a major part to play in Tannehill’s woes, Sunday’s game might help prove that a good offensive line produces a good Tannehill. As it stands right now, the Dolphins will be heading into this game with all five starters on the offensive line for the first time this season. While four of these five starters have already played with each other at least once (LT Albert, LG Tunsil, RG Bushrod and RT James), having Mike Pouncey in on the mix might be the spark needed to get some chemistry going between these guys and keep a clean pocket for their quarterback.
Factor #2: Arian Foster
According to head coach Adam Gase, Arian Foster will be a game time decision this Sunday but is leaning more towards playing than sitting. Foster has not seen any action after pulling his groin and aggravating a hamstring injury in week 2 against the Patriots. Going back to the point of having all five offensive linemen ready for this week, this is the perfect time for Foster to make his comeback.
If at any point the offensive line could be decent enough to show some decent run blocking, now would be the time. Foster, the offensive line and Ryan Tannehill need to find a way to move the ball this week against a Steelers’ defense that ranks 25th in rushing yards allowed per game and 30th in passing yards allowed per game. If Miami fails to put up three scores on Sunday, I don’t see the Dolphins winning this game.
I know that these past few games have been tough to watch for us Miami fans. It’s one thing to keep watching your team lose. It’s another to watch it in such a boring fashion. The Dolphins are second to last in 3rd down conversions on offense, with only Jacksonville worse, and second to last in 3-and-out percentage, just ahead of the Los Angeles Rams. It’s not fun to watch your team continuously go three-and-out and then watch the defense get zapped of energy due to the amount of time on the field. Hopefully having Foster and a healthy offensive line back can be the things needed to bring some life into this team. If not, I highly doubt anything will bring this team out of their funk for the rest of the year.
My Prediction: Dolphins 23 – Steelers 21