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The 4-5 Miami Dolphins, coming off a come from behind 20-19 win on the road at Philadelphia, take on the 2-7 Dallas Cowboys, coming off a 10-6 loss in Tampa Bay in Miami.  Both teams are hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive.  In the case of the Cowboys, they will need to win at least 5 of their remaining 6 games to possibly win the putrid NFC East.  And they come in with confidence, as they get QB Tony Romo back for the game on Sunday.  The game is a 1:00 kickoff on Fox.

 

Let's take a look at the teams and see how the match up.

 

The Dolphins come in averaging 350.2 yards in total offense, which ranks 19th in the NFL.  The Dolphins are generating 247.2 yards per game via the pass, while generating 103.0 yards via the running game.  This comes in at 16th and 19th respectively in the NFL.  The Dolphins are scoring 21.2 points per game, which ranks 24th in the NFL.  They face a Dallas defense that comes into the game giving up 349.8 yards per game, which ranks 17th in the NFL in total defense.  The Cowboys are giving up 241.2 yards per game via the pass and 108.6 yards per game via the running game.  This ranks 14th and 15th respectively in the NFL.  The Cowboys are giving up 23.8 points per game, which ranks 19th in the NFL.

 

Miami will come into the game again without their starting ORT, Ju'Wuan James, who is still dealing with a toe injury.  This is not good news, as OT Jason Fox has had his issues filling in.  Dallas also get's starting ILB Sean Lee back.  Lee has missed the last 2 games due to a concussion suffered in the Seattle game.  QB Ryan Tannehill and the offense will need to have an efficient game this week.  I have been preaching this for weeks, and it has been proven that when the Dolphins have a solid, balanced run to pass ratio, they win most of the time.  RB Lamar Miller has come on in the passing game the last few weeks, but he along with rookie RB Jay Ajayi, who has looked good the last few weeks, need to be a big part of this game via the run game.  TE Jordan Cameron has been MIA the last few weeks, and that needs to change.  Get him involved in this game early.  TE Dion Sims will most likely be used to help Fox at ORT and in the run game, but he needs to see some opportunities in the passing game as well.  Spreading the ball to all the weapons this week would be a plus.  The OL will need to minimize the damage that DE Greg Hardy can potentially do.

 

Defensively, the Dolphins come into the game giving up 390.2 yards per game in total offense, which ranks 26th.  The Dolphins are giving up 254.7 yards via the pass, and are giving up 135.6 yards in the run game.  This ranks 20th and 31st in the NFL respectively.  The Dolphins are giving up 25.0 points per game, which ranks 21st in the NFL.  The face a Dallas offense that comes in generating 338.8 yards per game in total offense.  They are generating 219.8 yards per game via the pass, while generating 119.0 per game via the run game.  This ranks 26th and 9th in the NFL respectively.  The Cowboys are scoring 18.4 points per game, which ranks 29th.

 

This Dallas offense will have a much different look, as they get QB Tony Romo back.  The Cowboys have what is considered by many to have the best OL in the NFL, and they have weapons in WR Dez Bryant & Terrance Williams, TE Jason Whitten and RB Darren McFadden.  Miami will be tested this week, and they come into the game banged up somewhat.  The Dolphins will probably be without LB Jelani Jenkins and possibly Koa Misi as well.  That means rookie LB's Mike Hull and Neville Hewitt will need to step up and play well.  DT Ndamankung Suh has been a FORCE the last few weeks, and he will need to have a HUGE game on Sunday.  He will also need help from fellow DT Earl Mitchell, who will need to beat single blocking.  DE Olivier Vernon, MIA most of the 2015 season really needs to step up.  Miami does get a healthy CB Brent Grimes back, and he will be needed.  The young CB's for Miami, Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain played last week and played well, and they will be needed again this week.  I believe this is a game that the Dolphins will need to be aggressive and get to Romo and hit him, OFTEN.  Big test for the defense on Sunday.

 

The pundits believe the Cowboys will win this game Sunday.  That showing a lot of respect for Tony Romo and what he can do and not thinking Miami has enough to get the Cowboys in their own house.  Under Dan Campbell, this team has sort of been up and down.  2 resounding wins over the Titans and Texans followed by disappointing blowout losses at New England and at Buffalo before finally winning at Philadelphia last week.  The good Dolphins needs to show up to have a chance to get this game and keep playoff hopes alive.

The Good

 

Ryan Tannehill didn't put up monster numbers, he only threw for 217 yards and completed about 58% of his passes, and one of his TDs was pure luck. But he did enough to put his team in position to win the game in the fourth quarter in what could only be called and ugly game to watch. Tannehill took a beating again, but kept coming back. One thing you can say about him is that he is a tough player. No one has been sacked more since 2012 and yet he has yet to miss a start.

 

Ndamukong Suh had a monster game with 8 tackles, 3 for a loss, 1 sack and 3 QB hits. He is starting to resemble the player we saw in Detroit more and more each week.

 

Reshad Jones had another good game with 9 tackles and a late INT that prevented an Eagles comeback. In a close game, he had a game deciding play. Jones also had a sack.

 

Loved the power and energy that Jay Ajayi brought to the running game. We need to see more of him. I especially loved seeing him run it on 3rd and 1 and easily convert with a power run. He brings an element to the offense that has been missing all year.

 

Rishard Matthews continues having a break out season, with 5 catches for 93 yards, including a long run and catch of 43 yards that almost went for a TD.

 

Nice to see Chris McCain get some time at defensive end and come up with a strip sack.

 

Even nicer to see the rookies contribute. Nevill Hewitt filled in nicely when Jelani Jenkins went down. Tony Lippett got his first NFL tackle. Bobby McCain came in and played well in coverage. But the biggest play of the game was Zack Vigil's punt block that changed momentum and allowed the Dolphins to get back in the game.

 

The Bad

 

Damien Williams was to blame for this week's safety. After dropping a pass on offense, he then went to return a kick off and muffed it. When he got it back, his teammate was telling him to stay in the end zone but he inexplicably decided to run it out to the 1 and then slip and fall. Of course Tannehill was sacked on the next play by an unblocked defender for a safety.

 

The Ugly

 

The defense is infuriatingly inconsistent. They did well against the run, allowing only 83 yards on 36 attempts (2.3 YPC), but there were huge gaps in the secondary at times. Brent Celek had the game of his life, with 4 catches for 134 yards. However, the Dolphins did sack Sam Bradford 4 times and forced multiple fumbles, which is great. But they didn't recover any of them.

 

Overall

 

The Dolphins are still in the hunt. But it is a tall order. They literally have to go on a 4-5 game winning streak at this point to get themselves positioned to have a chance at the playoffs in late December. And they don't have the luxury of depending on tie breakers since they are 0-4 in division games. It is going to take about 10 wins to have a chance at the playoffs. The Dolphins need to go 6-1 the rest of the way to get there. Given how  maddenly inconsistent this team is, I'm not exactly expecting this to happen.

 

Next week, the Dolphins play the Cowboys, who have lost 7 straight, but get Tony Romo back. Let's hope they can at least play as gritty a game as they played against the Eagles.

Next Game

Preseason Game 1 - Dolphins at Giants

 

 

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