Arizona Cardinals (-1.5) @ Miami Dolphins
Hard Rock Stadium
Announcers: Chris Myers and Ronde Barber
After a disappointing end to the best streak in 9 seasons, the Miami Dolphins cling to their playoff lives today as they host the Arizona Cardinals. While with a loss today could truly end their season (mathematically they would still be alive), the Dolphins need to take care of business these final four weeks. Today it starts with the Arizona Cardinals, who come in fighting for their playoff lives as well. This game features very tough match ups for the Dolphins, and after last weeks drubbing, the Cardinals are primed to take advantage of the blue print made for them. Here are the keys to victory today for the Dolphins.
1. Contain David Johnson- this is the worst kept secret in football. David Johnson is freakin good! With possibly no Kiko Alonso today, the depleted Miami linebacking corp has the dubious task of slowing Johnson down. He already has over 1000 yards on the ground and could be even more dangerous out of the backfield. The Dolphins will need to stack Michael Thomas or Baccari Rambo in the box to try and contain him. Holding Johnson under 100 yards will be a miracle, but I am hoping Vance Jospeh corrected last weeks mistakes and has a plan in place.
2. Cover the Middle- last week, Joe Flacco absolutely torched the defense in the middle of the field. Look for Palmer to do the same. Larry Fitzgerald is a hall of fame WE and will line up in the slot. This is where I would have loved to see Xavien Howard make his return. Bobby McCain may be eaten alive today unless he gets some major help. Don’t be surprised to see someone shadows Fitzgerald, maybe Maxwell with have this task. He knows him well from his days in Seattle. Containtjng Fitzgerald will be key to slowing Palmer down.
3. Get the Jay Train out of the station- what was frustrating last week was the lack of a ground game, again. The Dolphins were down 21-0 before I even blinked. The run game was abandoned, however, Ajayi still had 5.1 yards per carry against a very stingy defense. Look for Gase to pound the rock and control the game today. With the defense depleted, this is the winning formula. I expect to see 25 carries today from Ajayi, hopefully he is successful against a very good Cardinals defense.
4. No honey badger- arguably one of the best safeties in the league, the Cards will be playing without their safety. Barring setbacks, expect Tannehill to play to this strength and stretch the field with Parker and Stills. Arizona will key on Landry which will open up opportunity for the aforementioned WRs. A solid ground game will help the passing game get back on track after a poor showing last week.
5. Win at all costs- with the standings tight, and truly only one wild card spot open, the Dolphins need to win at all cost today. With looming road match ups against the Jets and Bills, Miami needs to win today to possibly set up another winning streak. The Broncos have a very tough schedule over the next four weeks, and to keep the other teams at bay behind them, a win today is required to make the post season.
This game poses a tough match up defensively. But I also believe Miami will exploit their match ups offensively to keep putting up points. Unfortunately, ‘y confidence was derailed last week when an average offense put up 38 points. I believe the Cardinals will come out today and put the blue print in place like Baltimore, and force Miami to come from behind. Miami’s playoff chances take another hit today
Cardinals 28 Dolphins 21
Season Record- 8-4