After coming off of an embarrassing loss to the division rival Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins look to get back on the better side of .500 this weekend against the Detroit Lions.
The Lions feature a dangerous squad full of players with chips on their shoulders. The Lions will be the underdogs in this matchup even despite the Fins loss last week, and the fact that the game is in Miami, and the Dolphins are 1-6 at their home stadium should scare Dolphins fans all around. But if the Dolphins can manage to keep a select few players in check this weekend, the game should be theirs to win.
3. Contain Ndamukong Suh:
This guy is a one man wrecking crew. In only 14 games played this year he has 40 tackles, 8 sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown. It’s safe to say that the Dolphins need to come up with a defense for this guy, or else Chad Henne may not have many chances to prove he can be a prolific/efficient passer.
Suh will be facing off against Fins center Joe Berger, who has been pushed around all season long. Last week, Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams dominated Berger for 6 tackles and half a sack. The previous week against the Jets, their nose tackle, Sione Pouha registered 10 tackles and one sack. So to say Berger has been on a hot streak would be dead wrong. Williams should be a contender for Defensive MVP this year, as he has been distruptive all season, but the only player who has arguably been hotter is Suh, who is running away with the Defensive Rookie of the Yera award.
Suh will most likely draw double teams though, as well as line up on the outside as well as the inside. Fins starting right tackle Lydon Murtha matched up against Suh in college during practice, as both of them graduated from Nebraska, only a year apart. Murtha will give the interior line the scoop on Suh and his tendencies, so if Suh breaks loose for a big game it will not be for a lack of knowledge on the rookie, it will just be because of their inferiorness in capability.
Stopping Suh will be right up their on Tony Sparano’s To-Do list for the game, as he would like to see what Henne can do when standing upright for most of the game, something that has not happened for a couple games now.
2. Will the Real Miami Dolphins Offense Please Stand Up?:
Let’s face it, the Dolphins offense has been more inconsistent than anything else all season long. But as of late it been more abysmal than anything. Whether it be the questionable play-calls, or the lack of production from the quarterback and running game, there is always something running awry on the Miami offense.
We have seen both Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall flash signs of greatness this season. But both have been inconsistent in their production all season long while the running game hasn’t showed up since last season.
There are only two games left in the season and we still do not know whether or not Henne has it in him to step up and be this franchise’s quarterback of the future, or whether or not our offense knows how to correctly use Brandon Marshall to their advantage. In these final two games I will be looking for some consistency to lead the way to victory.
1. Stop Calvin Johnson:
Johnson has been the Lions’ go-to guy all season long, and in the process has put in 1068 yards and 12 touchdowns on 73 receptions. He has arguably been the league’s best receiver all season long, and has come up big in crunch time, no matter if the Lions are out of the game or not.
Johnson has been everything the Dolphins wished they would get out of Brandon Marshall this year. A prolific red-zone threat, a guy who goes up and gets the better amount of the jump balls thrown his way, and a dominant force. The Dolphins corners will have a tough time defending against Johnson, whether it be his physicality or his size, the Dolphins corners do not match up well against him.
You know what Johnson will get during the game. He will get double digit targets, and maybe double digit catches and a touchdown. But what the Dolphins cannot do is allow the Lions to hang around, and let Johnson beat them in the fourth quarter, where he has 5 of his 12 touchdowns. We all saw Andre Johnson single-handidly beat the Dolphins back in 2007, and that is exactly what cannot happen against us this year with Calvin. He has the ability to take over the game, and whether or not the Dolphins can control that ability will determine whether or not they win this game.
While the game is at home for the Dolphins, I think they pull this game out in the end, 17-13. Johnson will have his say in the end result, but the Dolphins defense will not let him decide the game and send them to no better than an 8-8 final record. The offense will struggle to score points again this week, but this week they will put up just enough to scrape by, and Henne will have a good enough game to silence the critics for at least the upcoming week.