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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
Your Miami Dolphins are 6-4. Let that register for a minute. After having us believe this was another lost season Miami is in the thick of the AFC Playoff Picture with 6 games to go. Adam Gase's 1 game at a time approach seems to have these guys focused and executing. Next up is perhaps the easiest game remaining on their schedule, which of course makes us skeptics think it will be a dud. Not so fast...
Chip Kelly's 49ers travel to Miami for a 1 PM game. Las Vegas currently has Miami -7.5 with a 45 O/U. For now Miami is a heavy home favorite.
Miami took on Kelly's Eagles last year and came away with a 20-19 victory thanks in part to a timely Mark Sanchez interception. At least they have some experience against what Kelly will throw at you and that is a plus.
After smoking the Rams in week 1 the 49ers have lost 9 straight games. They have surrendered 30+ points in 7 of those 9 losses. The opposing running backs seem to have season best performances in those games (we'll get back to that in a bit). Whether it is Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert, there doesn't seem to be a lot of offensive explosion since neither can consistently complete passes. Kaepernick will take off running and that could present some problems for Miami, but he's barely completing over 50% of his passes this season.
With the Dolphins rushing defense being leaky one has to think Kelly will use his bowling ball of a running back, Carlos Hyde, to try and wear down Miami's front 7. Hyde has 529 yards, a 3.8 YPC and 6 TDs. Nothing great but Miami's run defense ranks 30th in the league and as we've witnessed in the last few games they have given up some untimely big runs. Kaepernick will also try to take off for big chunks and has done so to the tune of 260 yards and a 7.8 YPC.
San Francisco's passing game is not scary, at all. They boast Torrey Smith (currently injured), Jeremy Kerley, Quinton Patton and TE Vance McDonald. The statistics aren't terrible but my guess is a lot has come in garbage time. McDonald as a TE could present some problems for Miami, and Smith if healthy has very good deep speed (or at least used to). But Kaepernick is sporting a lovely 53% completion percentage which is only a tick higher than his accuracy on registering to vote - sorry, had to drop that jab. Funniest remark I read about him was a writer saying his speed looks really good this year, no doubt in part from not being weighed down by an "I Voted" sticker. Hey, if you want to make statements you have to open for some jokes at your expense.
Back to performance. As I mentioned earlier, San Fran's run defense is a dream matchup for Jay Ajayi and Miami. While Miami is 30th in run defense San Fran is dead last allowing 179 rushing yards per game. You read that number correctly, 179 YPG allowed. That also comes with 13 rushing TDs allowed. Even if the statuses of Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil and Mike Pouncey are in question there is zero reason for Miami to not pound the ball. Ajayi hasn't had 100+ yards in the last two games but he still produced a few clutch runs and over 4 YPC.
If Miami feels the need to throw the ball its okay, San Fran stinks at defending that as well. Opposing QBs have thrown 23 TDs, 7 Ints and 250 YPG for a nice 97 QBR. Coincidentally, those numbers line up with how Ryan Tannehill has been playing over this winning streak. With Devante Parker really showing up the last two weeks (13 receptions 182 yards 1 TD) and Jarvis Landry making plays late in the game I think Miami can feel comfortable attacking San Fran's secondary when called upon. San Fran has dialed up 17 sacks, 7 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Not great, not bad.
Miami needs to win this game early. I love the drama of 4th quarter comebacks and seeing young guys developing into clutch contributors, but its time for a good ol' fashion butt kicking. The offense cannot leave the defense out to dry for so long and only show up here or there. This is the opponent that gives you the chance to play four dominant quarters. Yes, any given Sunday always applies but Ajayi should smash through this defense like a brick through a window.
Adam Gase will not have his team looking beyond this game. I have that trust in him now. I expect a healthy dose of Ajayi (and a 100+ yard game) and some timely Tannehill throws to keep the offense humming along. Hopefully they ditch the sideways stuff and attack downfield more, but that may be limited if the OL is mostly backups. I see the offense overall having one of its better performances this season. On defense, it could be a day where they give up a lot of yardage but limit the 3rd down conversions and red zone trips. San Francisco just strikes me as a demoralized team whose coach is probably scouting college job opportunities. This isn't a rivalry game nor do they have anything to play for. A cross country trip will hopefully have them mailing it in. I've been wrong before but even Vegas agrees with me this time.
San Francisco 17
Happy Thanksgiving Phinfever!
No room for complacency, let's get down to business. Miami stays on the west coast this week for another road game, this time against the Los Angeles Rams. There is currently an even mix of pick 'em, Miami -1 and Los Angeles -1 so we'll just call this one even for now. The O/U is 41 and its a 4 PM game.
You want to talk about wild cards? This seems to be full of them. Let's start with Miami and the health of the team. Brandon Albert has a dislocated wrist, Mario Williams is questionable, Mike Poucey injured his hip again, and I'm sure several other names will pop up on the report. Ryan Tannehill took some serious hits so I have a slight concern about his condition (he'll play, but will he be at full strength?). Couple that stuff with the fact that these guys are living on the road for the entire week which isn't normal for their routines.
Los Angeles announced that star DE Robert Quinn checked into the hospital for a non football related injury. He's been battling a shoulder problem this year and his numbers show it. He hasn't been the sack monster from years past. The Rams will give first overall pick Jared Goff his first start at QB. Critics have been screaming for this move for weeks. That always brings a giant level of uncertainty because he could be a dud or might have a great game because the opponents don't have a read on him yet.
Los Angeles started hot, going 3-1 and beating the likes of Seattle, Arizona and Tampa Bay. They then lost 4 in a row and just eeked by the Bryce Petty led Jets yesterday. The declining play of QB Case Keenum has a lot to do with this fall from grace. Defenses are able to key on big name RB Todd Gurley and the numbers show it - he's averaging 3 YPC, hasn't scored a TD in over a month (3 all season) and has yet to post a 100 yard game. Los Angeles is dead last in the NFL averaging 15.4 points per game.
On the defensive side of the ball they have been pretty good. They are only allowing 19 points per game which is 10th best in the NFL. While the defense is containing opponent yardage I was a little surprised at how few sacks and turnovers they have generated to this point. They have 16 sacks in 9 games, with Aaron Donald accounting for 5 of them. They only have 5 interceptions and have forced 8 fumbles. Opponents are averaging nearly 4 YPC and 103 YPG on the ground while throwing 13 TD passes and 223 YPG. Its a bit of a tale of two teams - in 4 games they've allowed 28+ points and the other 5 games have been 17 or less. As far as Goff, its not that I would be nervous but you just never know what a high end rookie QB can pull off against a team that hasn't game planned for him.
Outside of health, my concerns for the Dolphins are penalties and yardage surrendered. Despite who the Rams start the latter shouldn't be an issue. The addition of Earl Mitchell did good things for the run defense and even Jordan Phillips has played better the last two weeks. If the defense can get after Philip Rivers then they should be feasting on either a rookie QB or a guy who should be holding a clipboard. WR Kenny Britt is having a very good year with 44 catches for 693 yards and 3 TDs. Maxwell needs to lock him down. The Rams have their own Jakeem Grant in Tavon Austin who is a much more polished receiver with the ability to do damage through trickery. Fortunately for Miami he has produced very little this year.
The offense could be fantastic once again but will need key guys to be healthy. If Laremy Tunsil kicks over to left tackle and Kraig Urbak starts at LG it could lead to a decline in the quality of blocking. That in turn may limit what we've seen from the explosive Jay Ajayi and increasingly confident Tannehill. A healthy Devante Parker made a world of difference so let's hope he's back to form. Defenses cannot simply take out Jarvis Landry when they have to focus Parker as well.
This is the type of game where the offense needs to be aggressive early and force the Rams to become one dimensional with suspect QB play. Use the play action to set up shots down field and build an early lead. As I mentioned earlier, the Rams aren't exactly intercepting people like crazy and Miami's receivers have more talent than LA's secondary.
I have a funny feeling this could be a trap game and my gut tells me Miami is due for a stinker. But when you compare the teams and notice that LA's only win in the last five games was against Bryce Petty and the Jets (where LA only scored 9 points) you have to give Miami the edge. As a team Miami has scored 30, 28, 27 and 31 on this winning streak. I'd prefer to wait until the injury report comes out but I will be consistent and keep doing these predictions on what has become VICTORY MONDAY!
Los Angeles 10