Dolphins vs. Colts Week 9 NFL Preview

By Eric Smith

The Miami Dolphins (4-3) and Indianapolis Colts (4-3) will face off Sunday in what could be the game of the year for both teams. Both are so even and very equal. Both are playing for playoff implications even though it’s only Week 9. I’d expect this game to be closer than a lot of people think and could easily come down to a last minute score in Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Dolphins are looking to win their fourth game in a row after starting the season off 1-3. They beat the Cincinnati Bengals, St. Louis Rams, and division rival New York Jets the last three weeks with two of the three wins coming on the road. The Colts on the other hand are going for their third straight win and their fourth win in a row over the Dolphins.

Both teams feature rookie quarterback’s in Andrew Luck for the Colts and Ryan Tannehill for the Dolphins. Luck so far is having a better stats season than Tannehill, but both teams have equal records and that’s all that matters. Luck has thrown for seven TD’s and seven interceptions while Tannehill only has four touchdowns and six interceptions. Both have completion percentages in the low 50’s and both have already thrown for over 1,000 yards.

Tannehill though is banged up and how well he can perform is still out to the jury. He suffered a left knee and quad muscle injury in the Dolphins’ second possession last week against the Jets. He didn’t return to the game and is being treated day to day right now. If he can’t go the whole game the Dolphins will rely on Matt Moore. The Dolphins didn’t miss a beat with Moore as he was a nine game starter for the team last year and still beat the Jets 30-9. Colts head coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday that they will have one game plan for both quarterbacks since the offense will run the same no matter who’s behind center.

The game though won’t have down to quarterback play as much as who commits the less turnovers and who can control the line of scrimmage best. Whoever can control the line of scrimmage will control the time of possession and win the game.

The Colts have rushed for over 100 yards in three of the last four games including the last two. Indianapolis rushed for nearly 200 yards last game at the Titans to score their first road win in almost two years. They will need a run game going if they want to have any chance on Sunday.

The Dolphins rank third in the league against the rush and only give up 82 yards per game. The Colts rank 17th in rushing offense and get an average of 107 yards per game on the ground. Something has to give on Sunday. The Colts’ offensive line has been struggling to protect Luck the last three weeks and that’s allowed the opposition to get a good pass rush on him. The Dolphins have a very good pass rush and have sacked opposing quarterbacks 22 times already this year with Cameron Wake leading the charge with 7.5. The recent success on the ground for the Colts have allowed them to protect Luck better as teams have had to start respecting the run. That’s set up playaction opportunities and Luck has thrived in those situations.

The Colts need that to happen on Sunday if they want to win.

Nine of the last 11 games have been decided by a touchdown or less between these two teams and even though both have mostly new personnel, this game will probably be the same. Both are very even right now and heading in the upward direction. Usually when both teams are close and evenly matched the home team wins. I believe that’s what will happen on Sunday.

The Colts are too good in front of their home fans. They’re 3-1 this season and arguably are one play away from being a perfect 4-0 in Lucas Oil Stadium. The Dolphins have been playing well on the road in winning their last two, but the Colts just play better at home. Their pass rush is better, teams struggle to run on them, and they’re finally getting everyone healthy again.

Indianapolis 23 Miami 17

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