Miami Dolphins need lightning to strike again against the Vikings
By Shawn Digity
The Miami Dolphins are miraculously 7-6 after the last-second shocker against the Patriots last Sunday. With playoff possibilities on the line, they’ll be headed to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in search of their next win.
With playoff hopes alive and well for the currently-7th-seed-projected Miami Dolphins, they’ll have to make more magic happen against the Vikings. The Fins will be playing in Minnesota, who is also no stranger to miracles, but they’ve been far worse in away games this year.
Last week’s biggest injury headline was Xavien Howard being out. So far, that much hasn’t changed; he’s currently listed as Doubtful on the Injury Report and did not participate in practice all this week.
There’s a glimmer of hope that he might have a chance of playing when Sunday rolls around, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. It’s likely the Miami Dolphins will have to go into battle without Howard again.
The rest of the injury report is pretty nondescript. T.J. McDonald is listed as Questionable with an ankle injury, but he’s been fighting some sort of injury for most of the season now. I suspect that he’ll be playing.
Cornell Armstrong and Reshad Jones were also listed, but they were both full participants for all the practices. Armstrong will likely see playing time again this week because of the Dolphins’ depleted roster.
The Vikings are in pretty good shape as far as offensive injuries go. The only player that is out is wide receiver, Chad Beebe with a hamstring injury. Backup tight end David Morgan is also listed as Questionable but doesn’t see a large role since he’s behind Kyle Rudolph.
The Vikings have two injured starters on the offensive line, so that could be something the Dolphins could take advantage of. Cam Wake could especially take advantage of the offensive line injuries since the two major ones are on their right side.
Right guard Mike Remmers has a lower back injury and is listed as Questionable and right tackle Brian O’Neill is fighting an ankle injury. O’Neill was a limited participant on Wednesday but practiced in full on Thursday and Friday.
Other than the offensive line, there is not a position matchup that I’m feeling great about. Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray are a really good 1-2 punch and that duo could easily run away with record games. I’m very tentative with how the defensive line and linebackers handle those two.
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I’ve bashed on the defensive line a lot lately. That’s a unit I would foresee going through some serious changes in the offseason. I’m sure they’ll be a problem on Sunday…
…but the linebackers are coming around, so I can breathe a little easier knowing they have helped keep the Dolphins in some of the other games this season.
They’re starting to click together. Raekwon McMillan is starting to turn the corner and has played better. Jerome Baker is going to be a really good pick for years to come and Kiko Alonso is doing just fine.
The next matchup is very worrisome: Minnesota Vikings pass catchers and Miami Dolphins secondary. The Dolphins’ best player is in the secondary and I would feel better if I knew for sure if he was playing. Even a hobbled Xavien Howard is better than none.
The Vikings boast one of the best receiving corps in the league. Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph are dangerous. The Miami Dolphin CBs will have their hands full.
With Xavien Howard likely out again, Minkah Fitzpatrick will get the green light at the boundary again. He took some lumps in that role against the Patriots last week, but I expect him to bounce back.
It’s going to be a tall order to take down the Vikings considering their offensive weapons, home-field advantage and 84-million-dollar man Kirk Cousins. He’s good when he has a clean pocket, so it’s imperative the Dolphins’ defensive ends get some pressure early and often.
With that being said, we’ve seen lightning strike for the Miami Dolphins team and while I won’t be holding my breath for another miracle, I do expect them to pull out all the stops and play like they’re the biggest dog in the league. So who knows, maybe an 8-6 outlook isn’t so crazy.