This matchup pits two teams who are in a transition, of sorts. The Oakland Raiders have a new coach and a quarterback carousel. The Miami Dolphins have a new quarterback and head coach, so the similarities are there. Not to mention the fact that Raiders QB Daunte Culpepper (probable starter this weekend) has something to prove against the Dolphins.
The Raiders got their first win against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. As most anyone who follows the Raiders know already, the Raiders’ secondary is usually what makes them competitive. This year however, the defense overall has been less than stellar (22nd against the run, 25th against the pass, 27th overall). Their kicking game has regressed (Sebastian Janikowski: 5-for-9 on field goal attempts). But their running game has enjoyed a renaissance with running back Lamont Jordan (69-350-2). Now if the Raiders can get their QB situation straightened out once and for all.
The Dolphins’ defense has been their calling card in recent seasons. But lately, it has been their offense. That’s not to say that their defense is bad – just a matter their difficulty in generating a pass rush and making timely stops. QB Trent Green is the gatekeeper until John Beck is ready to take over; his numbers are not that bad (70-for-114, 824 yards, 4 TD’s and 5 INT’s). RB Ronnie Green may just be warming up as his game last week against the New York Jets (23-112-2 TD’s, 6 receptions, 99 yards and 1 TD) can attest to. Linebacker Zach Thomas is uncertain this week, which will put some added pressure on Joey Porter and others.
The Dolphins’ offense is slowly showing signs of life and will need to continue to do so. Just a matter of establishing the run to set up some play-action should do the trick if they expect to beat the Raiders. The Raiders, in order to win, will need a big effort from their secondary and at least 125 yards from Jordan this week. To that end, I believe the Raiders will shut down the Dolphins’ passing attack which will contribute to a Raiders win down in Miami.