BRING ON THE RAIDERS
Week 11 Game Preview
Fresh off the bye week, the Dolphins will be looking to get the second half of the season under way with a win at home against the Las Vegas Raiders. Three weeks ago that was a fairly safe bet that could have been taken to the bank but things can change very quickly in the NFL. The Raider nation and seemingly the players had grown tired of Josh Mcdaniels. After their loss to the Detroit Lions back in week eight McDaniels was abruptly shown the door, not lasting as long as his first failed attempt as a head coach with the Broncos, back then he made it through twenty-eight games, it was three less with the Raiders.
Enter former Washinton Redskins and New York Giants linebacker Antonio Peirce as interim head coach. He seems to have turned the fortunes of the franchise around overnight, the team has responded to the change and have won two on the trot although they were against Jets and Giants, blowing out the Giants and squeaking passed the Jets, so let’s not get too excited. Josh Jacobs has seen the biggest uptick in production since the change and will be used a lot against the Dolphins considering rookie QB Aidan O’Connell will be starting his fourth game as a pro. They ran it successfully at the Jets last week which was a bit of a surprise considering the talent on the New York line, they will probably try their luck again this week, so Christian Wilkins and company better be fresh.
Looking at the Raiders injury report there are a number of players that were limited as of Thursday, the biggest name being Maxx Crosby, the others are T Kolton Miller, guards Dylan Parham and Greg Van Roten, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Amik Robertson and rounding out the list is S Roderic Teamer. If Crosby isn’t at full health this should benefit the Dolphins as he is the leader of their defense and sets the tone with his relentless motor.
As for the Dolphins you would think they would be in a relatively good place with a week’s rest, but the injury report doesn’t reflect this. Robert Hunt, Rob Jones and Chase Claypool did not practice, whereas Braxton Berrios, Alec Ingold, Durham Smythe, De’Von Achane, Terron Armstead and Raheem Mostert were limited. The good news is Achane was on the list after being taken of IR and Jaylen Waddle wasn’t given a designation, so it suggests he is back to full health. Having Achane back will give the offense a huge boost because it hasn’t been the same since he got injured. It is hoped he can now stay healthy for the remainder of the season, and if Armstead can avoid the injury bug it would be even better.
On paper the Dolphis should have the win in the bag as they are at home and face a team trying to find a new identity with a rookie QB. There are three players Miami have to key in on, Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs and Crosby. Pearce has realised that Adams needs more targets and has come out saying that, it isn’t a surprise as Adams is still a force at wide out, he just wasn’t utilised by McDaniels, so expect him to see an increased workload. The question is will he be able to make anything of the opportunity as he will be lined up opposite either Jalen Ramsey or Xavien Howard, the hope is he should be held in check.
Having Howard and Ramsey on the field together has given the defense more flexibility, you just need to see what happened against the Chiefs. Yes, they had a few chunk plays, but for the most part Mahomes had an unusually quiet day. To hold Travis Kelce to fourteen yards on three catches is a win whichever way you look at it. Having two pro bowl corners on the field at the same time opens endless possibilities. It means Jevon Holland and DeShon Elliott can roam with greater freedom as they don’t need to worry so much about the deep ball, taking away the middle of the field and coming up to provide run support.
If Adams can’t make an impact then Jakobi Myers may be asked to make a difference but will that happen as Ramsey and Howard won’t both be on No 17. As mentioned there could be a big helping of Josh Jacobs, he can’t be allowed to get going as it will wear out the defense if it gets close, and the game will be shortened if they can keep the chains moving. It isn’t expected however as the Miami offense will hopefully change the complexion of the game. If they can strike quickly and jump out to a lead, then O’Connell will have to unlock the Dolphins secondary and that may not end well.
The only slight concern is that the Las Vegas secondary isn’t a push over, the team may not have been playing that well, but the secondary isn’t the missing link, they are currently holding opposing receivers to a QB rating of 82.3 so we may not see the expected fireworks, particularly if Crosby can help out by getting pressure on Tua, Austin Jackson could very well have his hands full.
There may not be a need to light up the skies though as the Siver and Black have had trouble stopping the run so far, they have given up exactly 400 more yards on the ground than Miami, facing Mostert and Achane probably won’t bring joy to their hearts. If the ground game can pick up where it left off before Achane went out it could be a long trip back to Las Vegas with the honeymoon being well and truly over. It is hard to believe though, that with all the drama going on in Raider land they are only one game back from the Dolphins, not sure how, but that is what their record says.