After an absolute blow out against the Houston Texans last week, the Miami Dolphins will play their home opener this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
Oakland lost last Monday night against the San Diego Chargers – but looked good early on against the Super Chargers. The Raiders will be wearing their black uniforms in this one – likely giving Miami a slight advantage by wearing white in the hot Florida sun.
Although Miami had quite a few negatives (quite a few meaning thousands), the team put together a solid twenty-five minutes of play to open the game. Honestly, who really thought Miami was going to beat Houston last week…anyone? Exactly. Miami is right where they should be, as is Oakland – therefore, somebody has got to win.
Both teams match up surprisingly well against each other – neither team is really holding much of an edge. So let’s break some of these match ups down…
Miami’s Weak Wide Receivers v.s. Oakland’s Weak Secondary -
It’s no secret that Miami has absolutely no threat at wide receiver, can we agree on that? It was quite apparent last week against Houston. Although Davone Bess was targeted early and often to begin the game, rookie Quarterback Ryan Tannehill looked towards other targets in the latter portion of the game. Bess will have to be Tannehill’s #1 look on just about every pass play for the team to find success against Oakland. Tannehill’s other targets – Brian Hartline, Charles Clay, Reggie Bush, Anthony Fasano, Anthony Armstrong – must help him out by getting open and CATCHING the football. The Raiders looked very weak against the pass last week. Yes, the squad does have a nice safety combo in Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch – but name their corners – Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell. Patrick Lee played well last week and I would not be surprised to see Lee in the starting line up over Bartell who looked horrendous.
EDGE: Miami – if the receivers want to catch this week.
Miami’s Front Seven v.s. Darren McFadden -
Miami’s front seven picked up where it left off last season holding, Houston to 83 yards rushing as a team – although Arian Foster was able to muster two touchdowns. Defensive Tackle Randy Starks looks like a brand new player in Miami’s new 4-3 scheme – Starks picked up two sacks and was wrecking havoc in the back field all day against Houston. If Koa Misi and Karlos Dansby play their butts off similar to the way the two did last week, the Raiders may struggle to get their run game going early. BUT, Darren McFadden is one of the best backs in the league. McFadden is also, similar to Reggie Bush, a multidimensional back – meaning he is a threat running the ball and catching the ball (posted 13 receptions last week against San Diego) out of the back field. McFadden may be a “pest” all day against this Dolphins defense if the team cannot shut him down early.
Special Teams, Special Teams, SPECIAL TEAMS -
Two of the league’s best special teams units will square off in this one. Miami is boasting a combination of K- Dan Carpenter, P- Brandon Fields, and LS – John Denney. All three have the potential to be all pros at their respective positions, not to mention the three are annually pro bowl candidates. Kick Returner – Punt Returner Marcus Thigpen, returned a punt last week 72 yards for a touchdown – Miami’s lone touchdown of the game. Oakland boats arguably the league’s best Punter – Kicker combination in the league – possibly in NFL history. K- Sebastian Janikowski and P – Shane Lechler round out Oakland’s two headed monster of a special teams unit. This game MAY come down to special teams and who can execute – which should be interesting to watch.
EDGE: Miami – Why? John Denney.
Miami’s Interior Offensive Line v.s. Oakland’s Interior Defensive Line -
LG Richie Incognito and RG John Jerry both struggled last week in pass protection – although Jerry looked great while run blocking, Cog looked horrible all game besides slamming Brian Cushing to the ground after an interception. Both will have to step their game up this week against a strong Oakland defensive line. Center Mike Pouncey looked great in my opinion – he actually looked like the team’s best offensive player. Pouncey struggled at times last season against strong defensive linemen – Vince Wilfork for the most part. Raiders defensive tackles Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour are two of the league’s best. These two may be the key to Oakland’s defense forcing Miami to pass. Miami’s interior line is facing a tall task of containing these two big beefies for sixty minutes. This should be one of the game’s best battles to watch.
MATCH UP TO WATCH: Reggie Bush v.s. Rolando McClain –
Last season against Oakland, Miami’s star tailback posted a stat line of 22 carries for 100 yards and one touchdown – not too shabby. Bush looked great against Houston last week – it was too bad the team let up in the final 6 minutes of the first half (down by 3 scores you almost HAVE to abandon the run). McClain looked like a man-child against San Diego’s running backs on Monday. McClain only had four stops, but he was a pest in San Diego’s back field all night – one of the main reasons the team abandoned the run. Reggie Bush is much better than Ronnie Brown – and Curtis Brinkley – therefore I actually see Bush’s speed giving McClain problems in this one. MEANING, Bush could be the key to walking out with a “W” for Miami. Let’s also not forget that homegrown product, rookie tailback Lamar Miller, will be making his debut of the season this Sunday. The speedy former Miami Hurricane could also represent some match up issues for Oakland’s depleted defense. – ARE YOU LISTENING MIAMI?
Prediction : Oakland – 13 Miami – 17
Keep your fins up!!!
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