The Miami Dolphins face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, with both teams having difficult starts to the season.
Miami head into this game 1-2. They beat the New England Patriots 17-16 in Week One. However, they have then gone on to loos 35-0 to the Buffalo Bills and 31-28 to the Raiders in overtime.
Meanwhile, the Colts have been beaten 28-16 by the Seattle Seahawks, 27-24 by the Los Angeles Rams, and 25-16 by the Tennessee Titans.
Both teams are desperate for a win to galvanize their seasons, as both look to make the playoffs in what would realistically be a wildcard spot.
The Hard Rock Stadium in Miami plays host to both teams on Sunday. How will this game play out? What will be the method each team needs to take to beat their opponents?
How The Colts Can Beat The Dolphins
The first way that the Colts can beat the Dolphins is between the trenches. Miami has struggled at the offensive line position this season, with quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jacoby Brissett having been sacked for a combined total of 10 times. This total is tied for the third-most in the NFL.
Indianapolis may have a 0-3 record, but they have factors on defense that can hurt Miami’s offense. Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner is a force on that side of the ball in his day, as are linebackers Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke. If the Dolphins offensive line plays like it has done the past two weeks in particular, then these three individuals will find Sunday a breeze.
The Colts have performed better than the Dolphins on all offensive categories and all but one of the defensive categories. Colts quarterback Carson Wentz has thrown for more yards than Tua and Brissett and has fewer interceptions. His passing yards total is also the same as the passing and rushing touchdowns Tua and Brissett have combined for.
Wentz has thrown for 3 touchdowns, 697 yards, and 1 interception. Tua has thrown for 215 yards, 1 passing touchdown, and one interception, along with a single rushing touchdown. Brissett is yet to throw for a passing touchdown but has thrown for a two-point conversion, 384 yards, one interception, and has recorded one rushing touchdown.
Wide receiver Michael Pittman will be Indianapolis’s biggest target against the Dolphins, with 220 yards and 12.9 per reception. However, he has yet to score a touchdown, whereas fellow teammate and wideout Zach Pascal have recorded three. Wentz will likely favor Pittman when pushing this Colts team down the field and then target Pascal as an end zone threat.
Miami has to try and stop the big plays, something that has been an issue this season. Their defense is their best feature and is the best in recording takeaways, but they are still susceptible to allowing their opponents to make big gains.
How The Dolphins Can Beat The Colts
What the Dolphins lack on offense, they more than makeup for on defense. In particular, cornerback Xavien Howard, who has been excellent once again in 2021. He recorded an interception in the Week Two loss to Buffalo, had a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the Week One win over New England, and had four total passes deflected in the first three games. Last season’s interception leader will be critical if Miami is to beat Indianapolis on Sunday. The Colts are 26th in passing yards recorded on offense. They will look to use the threats of Pittman, Pascal, and running back Jonathan Taylor, who will hope to capitalize on Miami’s run defense that is 23rd in the league for rushing yards allowed. Safeties Eric Rowe and Brandon Jones have both recovered forced fumbles along with Howard. Miami has one of the best secondaries, despite the aforementioned issues stopping big plays.
As seen in the Raiders ‘ loss, Miami also has a knack to make some big plays on defense. Linebacker Elandon Roberts recorded an 85-yard interception that resulted in a pick-six. This continues this incredible run that the Miami defense has gone on. This was the 25th straight game where the Dolphins have recorded a turnover, a streak that stands as the longest in NFL history. It was also the eighth longest pick-six return in franchise history, the longest since former cornerback Brent Grimes had a 94-yard pick-six on October 31st, 2013. This team will hope for a similar play on Sunday and will find encouragement from a struggling Indy offensive line that has seen Wentz sacked 8 times so far in the first three games. This is something we haven’t seen from the Colts in a few seasons.
Despite the loss to the Raiders, the Dolphins showed tremendous character to get back into the game, with Brissett’s late fourth-quarter rushing down on fourth down that was followed up with a two-point conversion.
“These guys believe in each other. We know how we work and will always fight and give effort but need better execution. Our goal is to win each week, and these guys are disappointed. We will make some corrections and get back out there next week”, head coach Brian Flores stated.
Miami faces a massive week, especially with the trip to the Raymond James Stadium to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following Sunday. They also face a trip to London in Week Six as they take on ‘London’s Team’ in the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coming up against two 0-3 teams and one 2-1 team present the Dolphins the chance to be 3-3 after six games. With a more favorable run of fixtures down the stretch, they will not want to be 1-5.