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NFL Miami Dolphins

Coming Out of the Bye Week, Miami Dolphins Have 4 Tough Games

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Miami Dolphins History and Strategy for Bye Week

Miami Dolphins History and Strategy for Bye Week
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

The Miami Dolphins and their fan-base feel like they gave away winnable games this season versus the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals. Those losses dropped the 'Phins to 1-3, and to the bottom of the AFC East. Heading into the bye week, the Dolphins have battled their way to 3-3, and a share of the lead in the division.

There is currently a four-way tie at 3-3 between the Dolphins, Jets, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.

When you look at the tie-breakers in the NFL, the head-to-head record is first. Second is records within the division. Third is record against common out-of-division opponents. Then if still tied, conference record.

Going into the bye, here is where we are: Patriots 1-0 in AFC East (3-1 in conference). Jets 2-0 in division (2-2 in conference). Bills 0-2 in division (2-2 in conference). Dolphins 0-1 in division (which is why technically Miami remains in 4th place in the AFC East, 2-2 in conference).

Week 7 will see the Patriots host the Jets, while the Bills host the Tennessee Titans. The Dolphins have their bye week.

The bye week has been part of the NFL schedule since 1990. Miami is 13-10 in games following their bye week (1993 schedule had 2 bye weeks).

Head coach Joe Philbin is going to take a few areas and work on them in this bye week. This slide-show article will look at what they may work on, and also the importance of the next four games coming out of the bye.

In Miami's final 6 games of the 2012 season, they faces New England twice, plus the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. Potentially tough games. Coming out of the bye, Miami has important games if they want to be in a position to be a (pleasant) surprise playoff-threat in 2012.

Thank you for taking the time to sit down and read my work! I hope you enjoyed the read...Pass it on! www.rantsports.nfl/author/craigballard/ for all of my free/daily Miami Dolphins articles @craigballard77

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Miami Dolphins vs New York Jets Part II

Miami Dolphins
Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

Week 8: Dolphins at Jets

As we looked at earlier, division games are massive in the NFL. In particular, road division games. The teams that take care of business at home vs division foes, then get a big division road win here and there are the teams that separate themselves from the pack.

Week 3, the Jets got a big road win at Miami, 23-20 in overtime. The win was a road division win for the Jets, so it was huge, but it had a price. Outstanding CB Darrelle Revis was lost for the season with an injury he sustained in that game.

The Jets are overall, 3-3, but Rex Ryan and company are surely pleased to be 2-0 in the division as we speak. By the time this Week 8 game rolls around, that will either be 3-0 or 2-1 as the Jets go to New England this weekend.

In the Week 2 battle, each team ran 79 plays. Each team had 13 drives. The Jets had 388 total yards, Miami had 381. Each team turned the football over twice, and each had a QB with a passer rating way down in the 50's.

Miami had numerous chances to win that football game, including FG misses -- plural -- from Dan Carpenter.

The pass rush that the Week 8 Jets will face from Miami is going to be a significant upgrade from the Week 3 pass rush. The players are the same, but the front four has been very effective at dropping QB's of late.

Miami sacked Mark Sanchez twice, giving them five total sacks in the first three weeks. Since then the 'Phins have dropped the QB an impressive 14 times in the past three games.

WR Santonio Holmes was targeted 14 times in that Week 3 game. Twice as many as any other Jets player. He is not a Week 8 issue as his season is over (left foot issue).

Philbin says the chemistry is getting better so he feels they can get better at closing out games. Getting a road victory in the division would go a long way to making up for the Week 3 giveaway to the J-E-T-S JetsJetsJets.

craigballard77@myself.com ...I also write about the Toronto Raptors at www.rantsports.com/nba/author/craigballard/

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Miami Dolphins Travel to Lucas Oil Stadium

Miami Dolphins
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Week 9: at Indianapolis Colts

As we saw on page one, the third tie-breaker is record vs common opponents outside of the division. This Colts team is a common opponent.

The Jets already have won vs the Colts, and they will play the Bills and Pats later in the season.

The story-lines (outside of the tie-breaker implications) are obvious in this one.

No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck vs No. 8 overall pick Ryan Tannehill. Luck has burst onto the NFL scene. Much was expected from him, and he is delivering. Big-time. He has gone for 280 or more passing yards in four of his five games. His career low is 224, while Tannehill has only been north of 224 once in his career.

Luck has been great, but Tannehill is surely showing development. The 'Phins QB has not thrown an INT in the last two weeks, and Miami is 3-0 in games where he is not picked off. Through six weeks the Colts have a mere two INTs (only Dallas Cowboys are worse). This is not a secondary that will scare Tannehill, and playing in a dome should spark the offense too.

Speaking of INTs, how about Vontae Davis vs Miami. Many Dolfans have issue with the tenure of GM Jeff Ireland, but it is undeniable that he made a nice move when he traded Davis to the Colts for a 2nd round pick. That should be top-45 (or better) pick and Davis' skills appeared to be on massive decline in training camp. So far Davis has an many 2012 INTs for the Colts as you or I have. Which is to say, zero.

Former University of Miami star Reggie Wayne vs Miami. We are sure to see CB Sean Smith continue to take on the opposition's top WR in this match-up, which should be very fun to watch. In his five career games vs Miami, the WR averages just three catches for 32 yards. Of Wayne's 75 career TDs, zero have come vs the Dolphins.

The Colts have been good at home in 2012.

>@craigballard77 and the new sports show is @RantingBenCraig

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Miami Dolphins at home vs the Tennessee Titans

Miami Dolphins
Robert Brownfield-US PRESSWIRE

Week 10: Miami hosts the Tennessee Titans

During this four-week stretch out of the bye, this is the only home game for the Dolphins.

The Dolphins are currently 2-1 at home. This game will likely be an important game as (A) It is only a 16-game schedule so they are all important and (B) Tennessee is also mutual opponent of the Bills, Jets and Patriots. The Pats already beat them, and the Bills host the Titans this upcoming week.

QB Jake Locker could be back for the Bills game (he is dealing with a shoulder issue currently) and will surely be back for this Dolphins tilt.

Locker was the No. 8 overall pick in 2011, Tannehill the No. 8 in 2012. Both QBs overtook veterans to earn the starting jobs (they both were going to be given the keys to the franchise at some point, but they grabbed the keys right away).

RB Chris Johnson has struggled in 2012. He has zero gains of 20+ yards, and zero rushing TDs. As a team the Titans are the NFL's worst running team currently. The 2012 Dolphins rush-defense has been very good.

We will likely see Smith cover Kendall Wright, but he may cover Nate Washington. Miami will have to have a plan in place to cover TE Jared Cook. Miami usually struggles versus pass-catching TEs and Cook is a good one.

We will hope to see a good home crowd for Miami in this big game. It will have been four weeks since the 'Phins played a home game so hopefully their fans will come out to see their team that they miss (and could that team be in playoff contention? Time will tell, but we see, this is a big four-week stretch).

craigballard77@myself.com

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Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills. My favorite game of the season!

Miami Dolphins
Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Week 11: Miami travels to Buffalo.

I mentioned earlier the importance of division road games. That is why Miami at Buffalo is annually my favorite game. It is always wonderful to win in Buffalo.

The Bills remained in the AFC East mix with a win at Arizona last weekend. That followed the two worst games in team history. Time will tell if Miami missed out by not getting to play the Bills prior to week 11, or if the 2012 Bills are going to be mediocre, so it does not matter when you play them.

This game is a Thursday night game so we will be subjected to that awful Ceelo song, but it is the only prime-time game for either team this season.

We will surely hear the annual talk about a team from Florida travelling to Buffalo, but each year the schedule alternates where one team hosts the first game, then the other teams hosts the second. That alternates next season and so on. This season Buffalo hosts first, then Miami hosts the Dec. 23 game.

That could be good for Miami. The weather in Buffalo in mid-November could be as high as 49 degrees, while at the end of December it will be in the low 20's. The average amount of days where there is snowfall in Buffalo in November is 10, but in December that nearly doubles to 19.

Buffalo plays the Pats heading into this game, and are currently 0-2 in the division. The best they can be is 1-2 in the division if they beat the Pats in week 10, and the best Miami can be is 1-1 in the division. This game leads into the tough six-game finish for Miami, so in order to have a chance to be a playoff contender in 2012, this will surely prove to be a must-win game.

>@craigballard77 and the new sports show is @RantingBenCraig

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What Can Miami Accomplish This Week?

Miami Dolphins
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

In the bye week we have heard Philbin say he will not look to reinvent the wheel, rather look for a few things the team can work on for improvements.

One thing I would like to see is Tannehill develop a better cadence at the line of scrimmage. As much as he has progressed in several areas, his cadence and snap count are very predictable. I can't really say it has cost Miami, but that likely needs a "yet" at the end of that sentence.

The team is not committing a ton of penalties. Actually, of the teams that have played in all six weeks only the New York Giants have fewer penalties. However the offensive line is getting flagged for false starts and holding. I think that the pedestrian cadence and snap count Miami has been using is allowing opponents to get great jumps off the snap which can put the o-line in precarious positions forcing a hold, or at times get too jumpy and create a false-start.

On defense we know the key term has been "technique" and Kevin Coyle is getting good play from his CBs for the most past, but surely technique will be a focus for the secondary in the bye week. The 'Phins have been flagged for five pass-interference penalties which is amongst the highest in the NFL.

This bye week will be a big deal for Jabar Gaffney as the Floridian is no doubt anxious to debut for Miami. We have seen Tannehill work some positive plays to his right with Davone Bess in the slot and Brian Hartline on the outside. We have seen Legedu Naanee and now Marlon Moore get a chance on the left, but surely Gaffney brings much more to the table than any other 'Phins WR.

Considering the difficult stretch to finish this season, I would say Miami needs to go 3-1 over these next 4 games. Of course it is game-by-game so we will soon turn our focus to Week 8 and the Jets.

Thank you for taking the time to sit down and read my work! I hope you enjoyed the read...Pass it on! www.rantsports.nfl/author/craigballard/ for all of my free/daily Miami Dolphins articles @craigballard77