Winning this game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is going to come down to hitting harder than they do and stopping Big Ben. Clearly, the Dolphins Offense will have it’s work cut out for them and many notable analysts have discussed this fact in-depth. This is true. Here is the truth; sit down for this if you are not already. The Dolphins Offense is not trustworthy to keep up with any high-powered teams production right now. The Fins must win this game with their Defensive effort and Special Teams as they did with Minnesota and Green Bay.
The Steelers are favored. Anybody think they should not be? Even Madden Football has the Steelers winning this game by 21-10 tomorrow.
But we who are Dolphins fans know that this Fins team has tended to be discounted and comes out on top anyway. This team can win on Sunday.
This is the Pittsburgh Steelers. They must hit them hard with receivers coming across the middle and push back hard against an offensive line surge to open holes against the run. Failure to do that will cost the game by itself.
And they must not allow big plays against the pass.
You see, the problem in beating the Steelers comes down to holding their offense in check long enough that the Dolphins Offense can put up some points. The Dolphins have not been able to move the ball and put points on the board at will against strong teams – but have put up “just enough” to win or to stay close at a key point. When they hold teams to less than 2 touchdowns by the 4th quarter then they’ve stayed in the game – witness Minnesota and Green Bay and New England until half-time. But once a game “gets away” and becomes an offensive race to put points on the board, the Fins have not so far been able to match-up well; such as New England after halftime.
The key analysis point:: if the Steelers start scoring points and Miami falls behind, it could become a long day for these Dolphins. If they, on the other hand, can stop the Steeler Offense – primarily by not allowing big gain passes or runs, then there is a chance they can stay in the game and win.
Here is the Dolphins Defense Depth Chart:
You can see that with the recent injury to starter Jared Odrick, some improvisation will be needed in order to get pressure on the QB. And Coach Tony Sparano has already commented that bringing down Big Ben is going to require more work because he is not as easily tripped-up by just grabbing and pulling him down by the leg. In my opinion, the Dolphins should go shopping and acquire another Defensive Lineman to add further depth to that spot. If Ryan Baker and Tony McDaniel stop it up a notch then the team should be able to do what it needs to stop most teams. But right now vs. Pittsburgh the only way will be to contain Rothlisberger within the pocket and close it down so he cannot scramble out of it. Even, steady pressure and good coverage by the cornerbacks is the hope for the Miami Dolphins.
I believe that the Dolphins can contain the run enough to keep the game close from that standpoint. Even though Adrian Petersen ran all over the Fins in Week #2 at Minnesota, they gave up yards but not points. And likewise, I think they can contain the Steelers running game. But, if Ben Rothlisberger gets loose on the Dolphins Defense and goes up by more than 10 points then the tempo and the characteristic of the game changes – and the Dolphins have not been great (as noted) in playing catch-up to pull off a come-from-behind win against a strong team.
Look for the Steelers to try to strike early and often; putting it in the air deep right away. A couple quick scores and the game becomes their property. Look for Miami to pound with their running game – and yes, I do think they will be successful running against Pittsburgh no matter what anyone has said so far.
Pound it Miami!
My prediction: Dolphins 20-17 over Pittsburgh.
[photo courtesy withleather website]