Defense Preview for Miami Dolphins (vs Oakland Raiders)

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

In a few days the Miami Dolphins will open their home portion of their 2012 NFL schedule as the Oakland Raiders travel to Florida. This article is a preview of the Dolphins defense vs the Raiders offense (Dolphins offense vs Raiders defense preview is HERE).

Where I personally would start is the wide receiver health issues for Oakland. Speedsters Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore missed their 22-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Ford will miss this game too, but Moore is likely to play. Rookie Rod Streater and 4th year man Darrius Heyward-Bey become the main targets for veteran QB Carson Palmer (throw in ex-Dolphins WR Derek Hagan). Moore is a deep threat (I actually have Moore on every single fantasy football team I have…I am anticipating a breakout 2012 for him…Let’s hope that does not start until next week!). Craig’s Key will be the match-up of Sean Smith vs Heyward-Bey.

The Dolphins secondary spent another week without even a sniff at creating a turnover in their week 1 loss at the Houston Texans…but…add this up…Rookie WR, plus Moore potentially still somewhat hobbled, plus the fact that Palmer is a fraction of his former self = a Raiders passing game that could be beaten this week by Miami’s secondary. Cornerback Smith has a mere 3 career INTs, but he did get one (his first career INT) vs Palmer when he was the Cincinnati Bengals QB.

One thing to love about Miami’s chances is they struggle with pass-catching tight ends who are adept at running routes in the seem and over the middle. The Raiders TEs do not pose that threat. The 2012 Raiders use Brandon Myers who is a product of the University of Iowa so you know his strength is blocking, and David Ausberry is used mostly as an extra lineman (he mainly stays home to help the o-line rather than run a route). We should see a good game from the ‘Phins safeties in this one as they should not be over-matched by the opposing TEs.

Darren McFadden is back for the Raiders. His week 1 was a mixed bag. He rushed 15 times for just 31 yards, but Palmer was looking for him out of the backfield on passes like crazy. How about 13 catches for 86 yards. From the RB. Wow (actually 13 catches was tops in the NFL for week 1, and 1 shy of Tim Brown and his Raiders record of 14 catches). Clearly a Craig’s Key is going to be slowing down RUN DMC in this game. This of course needs to start with the front-7 doing their thing, and finding a way to cover McFadden out of the backfield.

Craig’s Key will be turnovers. Now I fully admit that A) turnovers are crucial in any game, and B) the 2012 Dolphins are desperately trying to address creating turnovers…but…this is a Raiders squad who fumbles a lot, has a QB who tosses INTs a lot, and they shoot themselves in the foot with costly penalties…a lot. I anticipate the Raiders making mistakes. Question is, will the ‘Phins capitalize on any mistakes?!?

Very often Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler are the Raiders best offensive players (their kicker and punter). Let’s hope the ‘Phins defense can make the punter important on Sunday.

In their 2011 victory over the Raiders (34-14) the Dolphins D sacked Palmer twice, and picked off Palmer twice (including a Kevin Burnett pick-6). The only WR that was good in that game for Oakland was Chaz Schilens, and he is now with the New York Jets.

Another small thing that could play in Miami’s favor is that this game was a 4:25pm start, but the NFL has moved that up to 1pm. For the west-coast Raiders that means their body clock says it is 10am. Hopefully that, plus the Miami weather, make for a sluggish Raiders squad (Raiders will be in black uniforms in the Miami heat). For these reasons I anticipate a guy with the skill/motor of Cameron Wake to have a great game.

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