This weekend the Miami Dolphins are squaring off against the St. Louis Rams at home in Southern Florida and for the first time this season the Dolphins are actually the favorite to win. Truth is the Phins are surprising everyone with the level of play that they have been exhibiting on the field the last few weeks. Yes they are still only 2-3, and you are what your record says you are but Miami could have been an easy 5-1 if you take away about 5 minutes of bad play in 2 games. They are by no means a dominating team and have a lot of work to do in many areas but they are showing that they can compete with so called “superior” teams and that they are not giving up without a fight. Miami, believe it or not, is a playoff contender and will be in the running for a Wild Card spot come December.
One team standing in thier way is the St. Loius Rams who have been pretty suprising themselves this year. QB Sam Bradford had finally started to show some real talent and why he was selectd number 1 overall. Unfortunatly his main target Danny Amendola is out for several weeks with a collorbone injury and that is seriouisly going to hamper the passing game for the Rams. The Rams Defense is what is really starting to impress with thier great play so far this season. They are tied with Miami with 15 sacks this season after recording 9 sacks against the Arizona Cardinals. With pass rushers like Chris Long and and Cornerback Cortland Finegin having incredible seasons, Miami QB Ryan Tannehill is going to have his work cut out for him.
Both defenses are stingy in giving up yards but in different aspects of the game. Miami has the number 1 rush defense in the league and plans on staying that way. The Rams running attack is probably the 2nd weakest(New York Jets are worse) they have faced so far and are ranked 22nd in the league. Their ability to stop the rush is not much better as they are ranked 18th in the league giving up over 117 yards per game. Miami should be able to run all over the Rams Defense, especially to counter the blitzes they like to send down the middle. The Rams secondary is what the Phins should be worrying about, as they are ranked 12th in the league and being led by Cortland Finnigan who looks like a new man since arriving in St. Louis and is tied for second in the league with 3 interceptions so far this year. The Miami Secondary on the other hand is still a little suspect. Miami is known to give up yardage in the air but has stepped up dramatically in the last couple of weeks. Also the numbers are slightly skewed due to the fact that since teams can’t move the ball on the ground, they are turning to the pass early and sticking with it. Miami has defended 215 passes compared to only 116 running plays.
Miami’s offense is going to be under constant pressure from the defense as they look to rack up some more sacks on Tannehill. Tackles Jake Long and Rookie Jonathan Martin are going to be busy buying time for thier Rookie QB. Martin has stepped up substatially since the preseason and will hopefully continue to do so with help on the right side from Jon Jerry. The running game is going to be a very important part of this game as the Rams have a very good secondary but can be exposed with some play action. Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller should have a great day against a lackluster rush defense. The Rams Offense just lost their biggest threat and is going to have a hard time against the Miami Defense without any real threats at receiver or running back. Steven Jackson has not been very productive and has been losing time to rookie Daryl Richardson and neither seem to be very threatening.
A major factor in a defensive battle like this is special teams and that’s where the Rams excel over Miami. Miami’s kicker Dan Carpenter has missed some incredibly important kicks in some clutch times and has cost the Phins big both times. The Phins cannot count on his leg and must score in the red-zone in order to stay ahead. The Rams have a rookie kicker that is looking to set records whenever possible. Greg Zuerlein has already hit kicks from 60 and 58 yards away with ease and they were in the same game. Miami must keep St. louis out of field goal range at all costs. This will not be a high scoring game and it will most likely be decided by a field goal or less. Keeping Zuerlein out of his monstrous range is a must for the Miami Defense.
These two teams matchup very well and make fore a very intresting game in the end. Defense will be the name of the game and which ever plays better will be the winner. Miami seems to have the better offense if they can maintane the level of play they have had, but the Rams are no push over. They did beat the Cardinals the week after Miami lost to them in overtime. Miami is favored to win thier second home game of the season and start a winning streak in Miami which hasn’t been seen since week 10 of last year.