Game Preview: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
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Every Colts home game is going to be emotional as the team and community try to rally around Chuck Pagano (he has ties to Miami as he was the Miami Hurricanes defensive-backs coach from 1995-2000).
Amazing to see that the Dolphins are currently the #5 seed in the AFC, and the Colts are #6. If the playoffs started today both would qualify (Miami has a better conference record so they currently own the tie-breaker over Indy).
These 2 teams have already combined for 8 wins, which is surely ahead of most 2012 projections. #1 overall pick Andrew Luck vs #8 overall pick Ryan Tannehill (we know Tannehill is banged up and may miss this game, but there is a chance that he will play this weekend).
I may be in the minority here, but I think the Dolphins chances on Sunday are the same whether it is Tannehill or Matt Moore. Moore has failed in the past in scenarios where he is promoted from #2 to #1 to be the main guy, but he has a very strong history of being effective as the #2 guy who gets emergency playing time.
It does appear that Miami is preparing for Moore to be the guy this weekend. Teams have not thrown the football very much vs the Colts in 2012, but this is a secondary that can be had by either ‘Phins QB. Indy yields multiple passing TDs just about every week. The Colts pass-rush is pedestrian.
Ex-Dolphins CB Vontae Davis is out for a while, and Miami’s receiving talent is on the rise with the good play of Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, plus the good play lately from Anthony Fasano and also the addition of Jabar Gaffney. Heck, even Marlon Moore is contributing lately.
I think the running game is more of a concern this week. Reggie Bush went nuts in a week 2 victory vs the Oakland Raiders, but since then he is averaging a measly 50 yards per game on the ground (with an average of just 3.5 yards per carry). In fact in Miami’s last 4 games they have not even had a game where they rushed for 100+ yards as a team.
The Colts rush-D may be the cure for what ails the ‘Phins running game. The Colts yield a whopping 4.8 yards per carry to their opponents (only 3 teams are worse). They also give up rushing TDs.
The Colts running game has caught fire. In the last 2 weeks they are averaging 160 rushing yards (both games were wins) and they have gone north of 100+ team rushing yards in 4 of the past 5 games. Not only does Vick Ballard have the best last-name in the NFL, but he is progressing weekly for Indy.
That is the good news for the Colts. The bad news is the Dolphins rush-D has been superb. No team yields less yards per carry than Miami, and they have only given up 3 rushing TDs.There is nothing available up the middle vs this defense.
We know the Colts butter their bread through the passing game. Luck is as-advertised. In particular at home. He has 6 TDs vs 2 INTs at home (exact opposite on the road). He also has 3 rushing TDs at home. Luck has been outstanding in the first quarter, but as defenses make in-game adjustments his play does regress. That is the case with most rookies, and Luck is no exception. His 3rd quarter stats/production have been downright bad. He needs to adjust to the fact that teams will make adjustments vs him.
Reggie Wayne has been awesome in his career, and again in 2012. He is putting up massive numbers and is the clear #1 threat on that offense so we can anticipate a heavy dose of Sean Smith covering Wayne. The thing that I like from the Colts is they are putting Wayne in the slot a ton and moving him around a lot. That could lead to the ‘Phins having to use multiple guys cover Wayne which allows the Colts to try to hand-pick the match-up they want for Wayne. He is scary good, and is being used extremely well.
The Colts have just 15 sacks, and have yielded 18. Miami has 22 sacks, and have yielded just 14. The battle of the trenches should go to Miami.
Head-to-head records is the #1 tie-breaker so this is a massive game. Both of these teams have put themselves in position for wild-card runs (The New England Patriots and Houston Texans are too good and will surely win their divisions). The winner of this game will be 5-3 and continue to be one of the top pleasant surprises in 2012.
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