The Steelers take on the Miami Dolphins this Sunday. Steeler Nation’s attention will be focused on the outcome of a bunch of other games to see if the Steelers will luck out and make the playoffs.
That’s all fine and good, but the reality is that the most important game to pay attention to is the Steelers-Dolphins game. If the Steelers don’t win, then the outcome of all of the other games becomes moot.
The Steelers MUST beat the Dolphins. Period. End of story.
If the Steeler lose, it’s a wrap. The Steelers won’t make the playoffs, regardless of what anyone else does. So beating the Dolphins is the only thing that anyone should be worried about. Everything else is out of our control.
So let’s take a look at the Dolphins. What do the Steelers need to do to beat this team?
The Steelers have won 4 of the past 5 games against the Dolphins, including their last meeting which was the muddy mess of a game in 2007 that the Steelers won 3-0.
The Dolphins are 7-8 going into the game. The Dolphins were primarily a run-oriented team. They average 142.1 yards per game on the ground. Much of their ground yardage came from their wildcat offense. Fortunately, the Dolphins’ running game has been hampered by injuries. The Dolphins lost Ronnie Brown in November due to a foot injury, and Ricky Williams was hurt last week and is unlikely to play on Sunday. So the Dolphins’ running game is basically screwed.
If the Dolphins can’t run the ball (which they shouldn’t be able to do against the Steelers’ defense), then they’ll have to rely on quarterback Chad Henne. Henne’s role in the offense increased drastically after Ronnie Brown was lost for the season. Henne has averaged over 40 passes per game the past 6 games. That’s a lot of passing.
This is Henne’s first year as a starter for the Dolphins. His results have been mediocre at best. His quarterback rating is 74.4. He’s completed 59.9% of his passes, and has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while being sacked 24 times.
Unless things go in a way that is totally unexpected, the Steelers should have no problem stopping the Dolphins’ offense. The Dolphins’ defense, on the other hand, might be another matter.
The Dolphins defense is a fairly blitz-happy bunch. They’re 5th in the NFL with 41 sacks. That’s only 3 fewer than the Steelers have. The Dolphins are led by a guy named Joey Porter. The name sounds slightly familiar, but I can’t quite remember where I’ve heard it before. Porter leads the team with 8 sacks. Jason Taylor is Porter’s partner in the Miami sack parade. Taylor has 7 sacks. The Steelers offensive line is going to have to work overtime to keep these two off of Big Ben.
Fortunately, the Dolphins’ secondary is even weaker than the Steelers’ (if that’s even possible). The Dolphins’ secondary gives up more yards per pass than any other team in the NFL. If the offensive line can buy Ben a little time, he should be able to pass for even more yardage against the Dolphins than he did against the Packers. How does 600 yards sound?
For once, I might even be able to forgive Bruce Arians for having Roethlisberger pass the ball 50 times. Okay, maybe not. Brucie isn’t getting off that easily.
If they play up to their ability, the Steelers should beat the Dolphins. Everything else is out of their control. Steeler Nation will just have to pray that the football gods smile upon the them and make things fall into place the way we all hope that they will.
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