The 8-3 Miami Dolphins are set to put their five-game win streak on the line Sunday against the 7-4 San Francisco 49ers. This will be the Dolphins’ biggest offensive test so far this year.
The 49ers have one of the best defenses in the NFL. They currently rank 5th in defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins rank 2nd in offensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders. It is a matchup of offensive and defensive juggernauts. What do the Dolphins need to do to come out on top?
The Dolphins’ offensive line has to slow down Nick Bosa and the 49ers’ pass rush. The 49ers are 8th in the league in sacks per game averaging right at three a game. Terron Armstead’s availability and overall health will be a major part of slowing down this pass rush. I would also expect Mike McDaniels to try and get the ball out of Tua’s hands quickly.
They have to establish the run. Football 101 tells us that it is hard to move the ball when you are one-dimensional, especially when you are facing a defense like the 49ers. If the Dolphins can establish the run, it will force the safeties to come down, which will potentially allow for big plays to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle over the top.
Tua needs to prove that he can perform off-script. Most of his success this year has come from the pocket. Tua’s ability to evade pressure and make plays outside of the pocket and outside the structure of the play will be tested this week. His ability to make those plays when he is running from the 49ers’ pressure will be the difference in the game this week.