NFL Week 15 Preview: Jaguars at Dolphins

By Craig Ballard

The Miami Dolphins welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to Sun Life Stadium this week. I feel insane to feel so good about the Dolphins in this game as they are in a 1-5 free-fall, but this Jags team is truly awful. Somehow they have Chad Henne as their quarterback… *spoiler alert* – Henne reeks (article on Henne’s return to Miami is HERE).

The Jags leading rusher is Maurice Jones-Drew, and he has not played in almost two months. Rashad Jennings is questionable for this game as he is having concussion issues. Even if Jennings does play we should note that he is terrible (2.8 yards per carry…yikes). There are maybe five running backs on earth that would be concerning to this Dolphins rush-defense and none of them are on the Jags roster (except Jones-Drew but he is likely done for the season). Montell Owens will start at running back for the Jags. He has just 35 carries in his career.

The best players on offense for Jacksonville are wide receivers Justin Blackmon, and Cecil Shorts III (who may return to action this weekend…concussion issues). Blackmon has been targeted a team-high 97 times this season, but has just three touchdowns. Shorts has seven. We are likely to see Sean Smith get assigned Blackmon when in man-to-man.

A key will be how well the Dolphins defend Marcedes Lewis. Miami often struggles vs. pass-catching tight ends.

We know linebacker Koa Misi will miss this game so the linebacker unit is a tad depleted, but vs the Jags that should not be a death sentence (article on Koa Misi’s replacements is HERE).

On offense this looks like the week 3 tilt vs the Oakland Raiders to me. The running game did whatever it wanted, the passing game chipped in, and the team rolled to a season-high 35 points. The last two games Miami has just 29 total points, but they should get more than that in this game vs a Jags defense ranked #24 vs the pass, and #31 vs the run.

One concern is that Davone Bess will miss this game (article on Bess missing this game is HERE). This is the first time in Bess’ career that he will miss a game (wow). Miami does not have WR talent to replace Bess in the slot, so I am hopeful that they will use formations with Reggie Bush in the slot and Lamar Miller as the running back (again, reminds me of Raiders game).

Cameron Wake has 14 sacks. The Jaguars have 14 sacks. Yikes. This is a game where Ryan Tannehill will be able to go through his progressions with ease. If his accuracy improves/is on target this week then this should be a big game for him. At home Tannehill averages just 206 passing yards, and not even one touchdown pass per game. This game should should be way north of 206 yards, and should provide opportunities for multiple touchdowns for Tanny.

In weeks one and two Bush got more than 100+ yards from scrimmage. He hadn’t eclipse 100 since, but last week he went for 103 yards from scrimmage. Bush has struggled, and has been vocal about his displeasure on how the 2012 Dolphins have utilized him, but this is a game where he should romp. No team has allowed more rushing touchdowns than Jacksonville so I think Bush will have a lot of touches, and a lot of success this Sunday.

Dolfans are at a all-time worst for morale and confidence in their team. “Fire Jeff Ireland” is on most of their minds. This game should be rare fun for ‘Phins phans, but I will say this…If I am wrong about the Dolphins winning this game and in fact Henne beats Miami in Miami the fans will go ballistic and will spit venom on a whole new level of anger/frustration. I really think the coaches know this is a must win game.

Prediction: Dolphins win

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