WEEK SEVENTEEN, ALL TO PLAY FOR

Week 17 Game Preview

Win and In, that is it, plain and simple. If the Dolphins want to secure a play-off spot then beating the Buffalo Bills in their back yard is the least complicated option because if they falter any one of the other four 10-5 teams will be looking to take their place. The problem is the Dolphins have the toughest match up going into the final week.

The Ravens and Colts shouldn’t have much of a problem so they will more than likely be 11-5. The Browns are playing the Steelers who have nothing to play for and will be resting Big Ben, so the Browns chances are looking favourable. That leaves the Titans who are playing the Texans, and they have one of the worst run D’s in the league, so unless JJ Watt’s mid-week speech ignites his team the Titans should win which takes us back to the Bills game.

Earlier in the week news broke that Ryan Fitzpatrick went on the COVID list so there will be no last-minute heroics this week, it is going to be Tua all the way which is the way it should be moving forward. This is a game where he needs to step up and silence all the critics who are now suggesting that the Dolphins should use the Texan’s draft pick on a quarterback because they don’t believe that N° 1 has what it takes. They are backing up this statement partly because they don’t reckon Miami will see a high draft pick again for a long time because Brian Flores is that good. High praise in one respect but give the kid a chance, he has only started eight NFL games.

We understand that Joe Burrow was playing well, and Justin Herbert has been playing lights out, but would you rather be the 6-9 Chargers with Anthony Lynn or 10-5 Dolphins with Brian Flores moving forward. Some quarterbacks need more time to get it. We could list perennial pro-bowlers that had torrid first years and turned it around. Josh Allen, this week’s opponent is playing at an elite level this season but his first year wasn’t great, 53% completion rate, 6.5 yard average, 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His second year was better but is it any surprise his production has rocketed since the arrival of one of the best receivers in the game.

Tua hasn’t had a consistent supporting cast all year and it is clear the wide receiver position needs strengthening. Counter to that is Fitzpatrick has the same players at his disposal and has put up better numbers, granted, but he is a seasoned veteran who takes more risks than most and has been exposed to every type of defense the NFL has thrown at him so there is no doubt he is going to sling the ball more.

In reality Tua may not be asked to do much because there is a thought that Buffalo may rest a number of their starters, that or they may play a series or two, nobody quite knows what is going to happen apart from Sean McDermott and his coaching staff. They may play for the win because they would lock up the number two seed and ensure they are at home through the divisional rounds, but then again home field advantage hasn’t been what it used to be this season.

Assuming Allen starts he will be without Cole Beasley which is blessing as he helped keep the chains moving in the first meeting. He will however have Stefon Diggs and John Brown, both of which tormented the secondary. That was partly because Byron Jones left the game early, but if Brian Flores has any sense he will stick Xavien Howard on Diggs all day and provide deep safety help on Brown for Jones. When it came to running the ball In week 2 the Bills didn’t do a huge amount of damage, but then they didn’t need to because Allen posted over 400 yards in the air.

To help shorten the game and keep the ball out of Allen’s hands Miami will need to establish the run. Over the last couple of weeks they have been pretty successful and that may continue as the Bills have been giving up big yards per carry of late, not big team yardage because opponents are playing catch up, but there are yards to be had. If Miami can keep the ball moving with Myles Gaskin and Slavon Ahmed this will increase their chances of a win. The other factor that may dictate they run the ball is the weather, currently there is a chance of snow at some point in the afternoon. It could turn out that Tua doesn’t have to do much as long as he protects the ball.

It is hoped the Dolphins will be ready for the game and will take it to the Bills. Lose and they may be sat at home come the end of the day. This isn’t where they want to be but in reality they have far exceeded the expectations and predictions made by the majority back at the start of the season. Nobody thought they would finish with double digit wins but here they are in the thick of the wildcard race. They may not win in Buffalo but in reality they have come out winners because they are way ahead in the rebuild process and potentially have the 3rd pick in the upcoming draft, things are definitely looking up.