So I was just sitting here talking playoffs with one of our readers, going over the who has to lose what and what happens if this happens or that happens scenarios. It’s funny because it’s been 5 years, 5 very long years, since the playoffs and the Miami Dolphins haven’t been predicated by the phrase “officially out” by then end of week 8. So with that all being said and fans everywhere talking playoff possibilities, the one common denominator is this. The Dolphins must beat the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday. Here is 5 ways they can do that.
Key 5: United Defense. The Dolphins must find a way to stop Tyler Thigpen. Sure he is not Brett Favre but he currently leads all QB’s in rushing with 327 yards and he hasn’t played the entire season. Thigpen is becoming very adept to getting out of the pocket and letting things open up downfield. The Phin have struggled with allowing running lanes open up for scrambling QB’s. Joey Porter and Co. must find a way to force Thigpen into making throws he does not want to make by keeping closed pressure on him constantly.
Key 4: Larry Johnson, Tony G, and Bowe: The Chiefs production comes in three forms. All-Pro TE Tony Gonzalez, RB Larry Johnson, and WR Dwayne Bowe. While numbers for the latter two are off from previous seasons they are still very dangerous. The Phins pressure on Thigpen will help but the coverage of the Dolphins secondary will keep Thigpen from finding open targets downfield and the Dolphins secondary, as seen last week, tend to give too much cushion in the passing game. Larry Johnson is a weapon out of the backfield in the passing game as well.
Key 3: Chad Pennington. His leadership on the field has been described as beyond stellar. His presence is one of if not THE reason the Phins are staring at playoff possibilities with 2 weeks left in the season. Chad must once again rest on his veteran leadership and convince his younger offensive bretheren that winning is not only a must but it’s possible. This is not the first time Pennington has played in these kind of games and he must elevate his leadership to get his team ready around him.
Key 2: Running the ball. The Phins did a very poor job of controlling the clock last week and came out of Sunday with a lucky win despite the 17 minute difference. This is not going to be the case this weekend. A difference of that much and the Phins will not win. This is not the SF 49′ers who failed to score anything but FG’s in the redzone. The Chiefs have the talent to score TD’s despite their 2 win season thus far. For Miami, a solid consistent running game will allow the team to consume the clock with long hard drives that wears the defense down. The team who controls the ball and the line of scrimmage with their rushing attack will win this game.
Key 1: Baby, it’s cold outside. The Phins have played in a few 20 degree games and one that clocked in at 14. This game is supposed to be played in 10 degree weather. Chad Pennington has played in his share up NY but in reality this weather will make the week 17 weather feel like the Phins were back in Miami. Pennington is stressing to his teammates that it is “mind over matter”. Maybe so but that does not make your exposed skin any warmer. If the Dolphins can jump out to an early lead than the team can use a clock consuming attack that will allow the players to keep their blood moving and thereby keeping warm. If they fall behind, mentally the cold weather will take its toll.