The last few games have been rough ones for the Miami Dolphins, but they still have an outside shot at making the playoffs. Lets face it, the majority of the AFC is struggling, and any team that puts together a solid playoff push could find themselves with a chance to play in January. If the Dolphins want to be one of those teams, they will need to start winning games, which comes down to winning the one-on-one battles down in the trenches.
It sounds like such a simple theory, but if Miami were to dominate the line on both sides of the ball, everything else would come together.
The offensive line started the season playing with a purpose. They were getting off of the ball and getting into the chests of their opponent. They were not perfect throughout the game, but they looked like they took pride in what they were doing, especially in the running game. Lately, it has looked as though the big fellas are getting outworked and the running game has fallen apart.
Teams have adjusted to the way Ryan Tannehill handles the blitz so well. Teams have started to bring only their front three or four, while dropping everyone else into coverage, which has caused problems for the young rookie. The reason this has worked so well is the amount of pressure defenses have still been able to get on Tannehill. Even while rushing less, defenses are still getting to the quarterback, collapsing the pocket and enticing Tannehill into making bad throws.
The same theory applies on the defensive side of the ball. With Cameron Wake leading the crew, the defensive front has to get in to the offensive backfield. The Miami run defense has been gashed the last two weeks in a row, after having been one of the best in the league throughout the season. It comes down to winning the one-on-one match-ups along the line, and causing enough pressure to disrupt the opposing offense; with a struggling offense, the D needs to pick up the intensity to help carry the team to a win.
On Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks come in to Sun Life Stadium with their eyes on a playoff spot of their own. Much like the Dolphins, Seattle has an above average defense and a rookie quarterback at the helm. The running game of the ‘Hawks has been phenomenal, averaging 142.4 yards a game, and their defensive secondary boasts 9 interceptions on the year. All in all, they are a well-rounded team in the midst of a playoff run.
To be able to avoid their second home loss in a row, the Dolphins will need to win the war up front. If they can control the line, they will control the game. If they can slow down the Seahawks run game, quarterback Russell Wilson can be forced into mistakes that the defense can turn into opportunities for their offense.
The possibilities are endless, but it has to begin on front line, on both sides of the ball.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.