By: Jorge Hinojosa
Last week was emotional, passionate, and yet, somehow routine win for the Miami Dolphins. A dominating 19-7 win that could have been a shutout if not for a mistake by a rookie. This week however, the Dolphins are up against a whole other monster… The current Super Bowl champions, Kansas City Chiefs will be coming to town in what will be the very first game where Mahomes faces the Dolphins and Tua.
Let’s get to it:
When: Sunday, 1pm ET at Hard Rock Stadium
How we got here?
The Dolphins come into this game after beating the Bengals 19-7 behind an impressive 3rd quarter, 6 sacks by the defense and 2 interceptions off the Bengals.
When the Chiefs have the ball.
Not going to sugar-coat it. When Mahomes has the ball in his hands, the Chiefs are a threat to score from anywhere on the field. I mean this is a guy that can throw right-handed, left-handed, falling down, walking backwards, on his back and I’m pretty sure he could throw a 20-yard laser with this eyebrow if he needed to. For the Dolphins to be able to come out of this game with a W (which, spoiler alert I predict they will), they need to do two things: tackle well (as Hussam mentioned in the podcast this week) and bring pressure on Mahomes constantly and if you get to him, make sure you bring him down.
The Chiefs rely on two things for their success: A wide-range set of weapons that are able to hurt you in different ways (Kelce, Hill, Watkins, Hardman, CEH, Bell) and a QB that is able to give them the ball even after a play breaks down. We’ve already covered the latter, but the former is an area where I think the Dolphins can find success.
The Dolphins have proven they have 2 boundary cornerbacks (Howard and Jones), a nickel back (Needham) and a Safety (Rowe) that can match up one on one with anyone. The first three take away the main 3 receivers of the opposite team, while Rowe has become a TE eraser. I for one, am really excited to watch him go against one of the best tight ends out there. My concern in the passing game is who will take out the Chiefs running backs? Will they put McCain on them, will they rely in zone coverage to take away the short routes? Additionally, who is going to spy Mahomes? Baker and KMG are best suited for the job but they have to make sure to stay disciplined and be sure tacklers or the defense as a whole could be in trouble.
The success of this defense to stop this offense however will come down to stopping the running game without overloading the box. If the Chiefs have success running the ball and are able to use play-action then the Dolphins are in trouble but, if the Dolphins are able to stop the run and make them one dimensional then they most definitely have a chance. But you know what? I expect this Defense to do enough to slow down this offense for the Dolphins to win the game.
When the Dolphins have the ball:
We are back in the Chain Gailey intrigue game. Will he go back to his ultra conservative play calling that binds Tua as we have seen in the Rams and first half of the Bengals game? Or will he allow the rookie to do what he does best and be aggressive with the play calling like he was v Cardinals and in the 3rd quarter v Bengals? The Dolphins need him to be the latter for them to be successful.
The keys to this offense are simple: No turnovers, sustain long drives and finish them with TD’s and not field goals. If they are able to do those 3 (I know, no easy task) then they should be able to help the defense slow down the Chiefs juggernaut offense. The Dolphins need Gaskin, Washington and Laird to hold onto the football (there have been 3 fumbles over the last 2 weeks, something you can come from against teams like Bengals and Jets, but against the Chiefs, not so much). They need to have Tua get into rhythm early and force the Chiefs to pick their poison.
The Dolphins too have plenty of weapons, they just need to be sure to put them each in the best position to succeed. Use DVP in short and middle routes, Grant in sweeps and long bombs, Bowden on short passes he can take to the house and Gesicki is your 1st down go-getter. This offense has been steadily improving since Tua took over, they already had a tall task having to go to Arizona and beat the Cardinals, now at home against the Chiefs it is up to them to prove that the Dolphins can make some noise in December and January.
What to expect?
I expect a high-scoring affair where the Dolphins defense will have to do enough to give this offense a chance to win the game. I predict a 35-28 Dolphins victory where the defense will also get as many interceptions of Mahomes as he has thrown all season. There I said it and I stand by it; the Dolphins are winning this game.