It’s time to reveal my prediction for Sunday’s game between the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers. I’ve included picks from experts in the media as well, and I encourage each reader to post their prediction for the game in the comments section.
USA Today: 7-of-7 picked Panthers
ESPN: 12-of-13 picked Panthers
NFL Playbook: 3-of-3 picked Panthers
CBS Sports: 8-of-8 picked Panthers
Fox Sports: 4-of-4 picked Panthers
Anyway you slice it, the Dolphins are an overmatched team on paper. The Panthers come to town riding a six-game winning streak and owning a talented roster on each side of the ball.
Miami doesn’t project to be able to run the football very effectively without Mike Pouncey at center versus a front seven that has only conceded 84.5 rushing yards per game this season. They don’t project to throw the football with much success either, going against a Carolina pass rush and secondary that has limited opposing teams to 209.5 passing yards per contest.
Defensively, the Dolphins’ ability to stiffen in the red zone could keep them competitive in this game, but a leaky linebacker corps and inconsistent safety play could be detrimental against an athletic quarterback like Cam Newton and the league’s 10th-most productive rushing attack.
But how a matchup looks on paper isn’t always indicative of what transpires on the field.
The Panthers potentially enter this game feeling high and mighty. They’ve rattled off six consecutive wins and have beaten some quality competition along the way. They’re also about to enter an intense race for the NFC South title, playing four divisional opponents in the final five weeks of the season. Beating the Dolphins might not be the Panthers’ number one priority at the moment as it should be.
I see a huge mismatch looking rather even for the first 45 minutes of play. As tough as the Dolphins might play early on, Mike Rivera‘s squad is a beast that will eventually awaken.
Newton makes a few big throws in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers pull away late to beat the Dolphins by two scores.
THE PICK: Carolina 20, Miami 10
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor at Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.