THERE COULD BE TROUBLE AHEAD
Week 16 Game Preview
The next two games will determine whether the Miami Dolphins will get to the play-offs this year. The simple solution is, beat the Raiders and Bills and they are in. If they slip up there are a number of scenarios which still have them sneaking in and would involve either the Ravens, Browns, Colts or Raiders but this would obviously be out of their control and the further down that list you go the less chance they have of making it so let’s hope they take care of business, it starts against the Las Vegas Raiders tonight.
The Raiders are a tricky team that could prove to be a handful for the Dolphins as they have a powerful running game and a more than adequate passing attack. The biggest question coming into the game is the status of Derek Carr, Raiders coach Jon Gruden is optimistic that his veteran QB will start but we may see Marcus Mariota under centre. In a strange way it may be better if Carr is playing as we all know that the defense has struggled against mobile quarterbacks this season. They did have a good game against Cam Newton last week but that may just be Newton who has regressed as the season has worn on.
Carr brings a better arm to the table but he does have a tendency to give the ball away at critical times, he has coughed up the ball eleven times with eight of them being lost, when you then factor in his seven interceptions you have to expect the Dolphins defense to come away with at least one turnover in the game, any time the turnover battle is won the chances of coming away with a victory increase.
Not that we are suggesting Mariota will torch the secondary, but his legs may just be a difference maker. Last week he came on in relief of Carr who left the Chargers game early with a groin injury and played pretty well. They did come up short in extra time, but it wasn’t for the want of trying. He put up pretty impressive numbers, finishing the day with 226 yards through the air and 88 on the ground. You do need to take into consideration that the Chargers would have had to adjust to his style of play on the hoof with no time to prepare. Carr and Mariota have totally different skill sets so the Chargers did a reasonable job considering the circumstances.
There shouldn’t be so much of a problem for Brian Flores as they will have been preparing for either eventuality. What doesn’t change irrespective of who is under centre is the fact that Darren Waller is the main target in the Raiders passing game. Since turning his life around a couple of years ago he has established himself as one of the premier tight ends in the game. It is more than likely he will finish the season with 100 receptions and 1000 yards, he could potentially do it tonight.
When Waller isn’t being thrown to there are a bunch of capable receivers on the team. Nelson Agholor is the deep threat and Hunter Renfrow is their go to receiver on third down and you can’t ignore Tua’s old teammate Henry Ruggs who has got more involved in the offense as the weeks have gone by. Gruden may look to test the back end of the Dolphins secondary early to see if they can handle the speed. It will be a big gamble, but for Las Vegas it is all or nothing, they are hanging on by the thinnest of threads and need a miracle so why not go for it.
The Dolphins on the other hand need this win desperately so will hopefully come out with purpose. The good news is that Myles Gaskin is ready to go, but after last week will it be Salvon Ahmed or Gaskin that gets the nod, either way both will see playing time and should afford Tua the luxury of not relying on his arm because he may be without his top four receivers again.
Preston Williams is still on IR and the rest are dealing with various ailments and will be game time decisions as was the case last week. It seemed as though Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki were close to returning against the Patriots, it didn’t happen, and it still may not be the case because both have been limited in practice all week. With the need for the win, it will be interesting to see if either player can make it through. You could make the argument that it would be better for them to get healthier for next week rather than risk aggravating their injuries, it isn’t long to find out.