Welcome to Week 2 of the NFL season. Last week, the Dolphins defeated the New England Patriots at home to move 1-0 on the young season. 

This week, they’re playing a much more talented football team in the Baltimore Ravens, and they’ll have to do it on the road. 

Miami actually fared well in the three matchups I laid out last week. At the behest of my own sanity, we’re going to try and pick different matchups this week. 

We could beat the Austin Jackson/right tackle (Jackson is now on short-term IR, whoops) all year for every game if we wanted to, but that’s not a good use of anyone’s time. 

Matchup No. 1: Miami’s Linebackers Vs. Baltimore’s Running Game

This was the easiest matchup to pick out this week. Miami’s defensive line has kept the Dolphins’ run defense in the middle of the pack—they finished 14th in yards allowed last year—but nobody attacks linebackers in the running game better than the Ravens. 

Miami held New England to 78 yards and 3.5 yards per carry last week, which is pretty solid given the Patriots came into the season after finishing eighth in total rushing yards last season. 

Baltimore came in third last season, and they have something the Patriots don’t —a quarterback that can move. 

Lamar Jackson is one of the NFL’s best rushing weapons. He’s incredibly savvy at the second level, and the amount of misdirection they use with motion and pulling linemen makes the life of linebackers difficult. 

The Ravens led the NFL in Gap Power Run Percentage when using motion last season, according to Sports Info Solutions. 

That is to say; the Ravens love messing with the eyes of the linebackers and then punishing them with pulling linemen. This gets problematic when considering Miami’s linebacker personnel. 

Jerome Baker has plenty of desirable skills, but defending the run isn’t one of them. His PFF run defense grade has hovered around 40 since 2019, and the film backs that up. 

Fellow starter Elandon Roberts is billed as a strong run defender but outside of a couple of splash plays moving downhill, that’s far from the truth. Roberts struggles to find the football through motion and gets moved very easily. 

Additionally, he’s quite a below-average athlete making him an easy juke for Jackson. 

There is some good news, though. When the teams met last season, the Dolphins held the Ravens to 94 yards and 4.1 yards per carry. They even limited Jackson to just 39 yards on nine carries. 

It’s also important to note that Ravens’ running back J.K. Dobbins is expected to play in this game. Miami hasn’t seen him yet, but he’s typically quite impressive when he’s on the field. 

Miami stopped Jackson by rattling him as a passer and then relied on their defensive line to control the running game. They’ll have to do that again on Sunday if they want to win this matchup. 

Matchup No. 2: Dolphins WRs vs. Ravens Secondary

The Dolphins spent the entire offseason revamping their receiver room by trading for Tyreek Hill, signing Cedrick Wilson, and drafting Erik Ezukanma. Early returns on Hill are quite good as he went for eight catches for 94 yards on 12 targets. 

Miami also got a big game from one of the usual suspects in second-year receiver Jaylen Waddle, who scored the team’s only offensive touchdown while hauling in four catches for 69 yards. 

This matchup is so important this week because the Ravens’ secondary is limping into this game. They lost Kyle Fuller for the season, while Brandon Stephens, Marlon Humphrey, and Marcus Peters are all dealing with injuries. 

All three are listed as questionable as of Friday night. Humphrey was a DNP on Friday and is likely who the Ravens would’ve wanted to shadow Hill all day. 

The Ravens’ potential replacements are Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams, who I bet most Dolphins have never heard of. 

Both players were 2022 fourth-round picks and have *checks notes* basically zero experience, and they might be tasked with guarding Hill and Waddle—two of the fastest receivers in the NFL. 

The Dolphins need to abuse that matchup. Not win it. Abuse it. Even if some combination of Peters, Stephens, and Humphrey play, they’ll likely be a little rusty and not 100%. 

Matchup No. 3: Miami’s Running Game vs. Baltimore’s Front Seven 

Ahh, yes, the ole switcheroo. Miami’s inability to run the ball in Week 1 and during the preseason should probably be a bit more of a prominent storyline. Mike McDaniel became so successful because of his ability to design a creative, effective running game.

Also, the team spent some money on running back by bringing in Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert.

Miami’s designs have been creative, but they haven’t been effective. They ran for 65 yards on 22 carries last week, which equals roughly 2.8 yards per carry. That’s brutally bad. 

Maybe this is finally their breakout game, though. The Ravens’ defense allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL last season, but they had some personnel changes this offseason. 

The Jets only had 83 rushing yards, but they averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry. New York would’ve racked up more yards in the second half but had to rely on the aging arm of Joe Flacco once they fell behind. 

Miami needs to start cracking open some creases in the running game, and the Ravens might just be vulnerable enough to let it happen.