The Miami Dolphins (3-3) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) in prime time on Sunday Night Football this weekend. Here’s what you need to know:
The Steelers are a confusing football team.
They are a team that can lose 38-3 to the Buffalo Bills one week, but then knock off Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the next. Their record is one of a bad team — but are they really that bad? How will they fare against the Dolphins?
The quarterback situation in Pittsburgh
So, the Dolphins are not the only team in the league struggling with a bizarre quarterback carousel.
The Steelers started week one with Mitch Trubisky, who played about as well as you would expect Trubisky to play. After three weeks of watching Mitch Trubisky play football, Pittsburgh moved on to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett — the highly touted prospect from Pitt.
In Pickett’s debut, he threw three interceptions and lost to the New York Jets.
Last week, Kenny Pickett was knocked out of the game with a head injury and it was the Trubisky show once again. Pickett has reportedly cleared concussion protocol, which brings up the question of who may start the game against the Dolphins.
My guess is Kenny Pickett will get the start. The Dolphins hope to throw another interception party with Pickett.
The Steelers are pretty banged up in the secondary
With the return of Tua Tagovailoa looming for the Dolphins on Sunday night, the offense should be back at full strength and looks to pick up where they left off before Tua got hurt.
The Steelers are tasked with stopping Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle with a secondary with some major holes in it. Pittsburgh has their top three corners all on the injury report for this weekend as well as pro bowl safety (and ex-Dolphin) Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive lineman Cam Heyward.
None of them are guaranteed to play against the Dolphins.
To put into perspective how banged up they’ve been in the secondary, the vaunted Steelers defense from the past few years is fourth-to-last in terms of total defense. Pittsburgh gives up almost 400 yards per game — 281 of which are passing yards allowed per game.
If Pittsburgh can’t get those guys back from injury by Sunday night, it may be a good night for the Dolphins offense.
Brian Flores makes his Miami return
After serving as the Dolphins’ head coach for the last three seasons and ending in a messy divorce, Brian Flores makes his return to Miami as a Steelers assistant coach.
Flores, who serves as a senior defensive assistant for Pittsburgh, will have his first shot at the Dolphins after he sued the team back in February, claiming he was racially discriminated against. Since then, the Dolphins have moved on to Mike McDaniel.
One would think Flores would be out for revenge, but the former head coach says he is not out to do so. Per NFL.com, Flores is not looking at this game against the Dolphins as anything but another football game:
"It’s a non factor… It’s irrelevant in terms of what we’re doing here today in preparation for this game. It is a non-story for us. It really is."
The bottom line
Whether Flores believes this game against his former team is a “revenge game” or not, it is starting to feel like a must-win for both teams.
The Steelers are looking to avoid starting 2-5, possibly en route to their first losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin… ever. Since Tomlin started his tenure with Pittsburgh in 2007, the Steelers have never had a losing season. The Dolphins could send them one game closer to ending that historic run.
The Dolphins open up as 7.5-point home favorites against Pittsburgh. Kickoff is slated for 8:20 ET on Sunday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami for the Dolphins’ second prime time game of the season.