Miami and Pittsburgh duke it out on Sunday for a chance to make the postseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) @ Miami Dolphins (7-8)
Miami does still have a shot to score a wildcard spot, but they will need to beat the Steelers and hope for losses or ties from the N.Y. Jets, Baltimore, Houston, and Jacksonville. The chances of that scenario coming to fruition are about on par with Dan Marino starting for the Phins this Sunday.
The Steelers are playing excellent football as of late, and Miami might not even have Ricky Williams this week, so it doesn’t look good for the Dolphins. The Steelers run defense is excellent regardless, so even with Williams on the field, it will be difficult for Miami to rush the ball. Chad Henne will have to win this game in the air, but luckily for him, Troy Polamalu might not play as well. Both Williams and Polamalu are questionable.
The Dolphins have yet to get blown out by any team this season, ignoring that fourth quarter surge from the Bills during week twelve, so this should be quite a ballgame. Pittsburgh hit their stride late in the season, as Miami seemed to hit a wall during the last two games. Miami needs to play better ball in the first half, because Pittsburgh will be a difficult team to come from behind to defeat.
This has been an up and down season for the Phins, creating a true emotional rollercoaster for their fans this year. Miami started off with some very tough losses, but then battled back and pulled almost one game behind the Pats for the division lead, only to lose to the Bills. Then Miami surged again, beating New England and Jacksonville, only to then lose the last two games to Tennessee and Houston. Now they need everything to fall their way to pull out a miraculous wildcard birth.
Pittsburgh has slightly outplayed Miami statistically throughout the season, but no team has been more hit or miss than the Steelers. Pittsburgh is capable of dominating any opponent, but at the same time, capable of losing to any opponent. Miami seems to play up to their competition, regardless of who it may be.
Miami will need to protect Henne and give him some time to move the chains with his arm. Pittsburgh will undoubtedly blitz the young quarterback relentlessly, hoping to force turnovers and bad decision making.
The Dolphins must hope for Big Ben to make mistakes early and prevent him from doing something spectacular when or if the game is on the line. Roethlisberger will look great on one drive, horrible on the next, and then throw the best, last minute touchdown toss you’ve ever seen in your life. Miami really needs their young secondary to step it up this week and make some big plays in order for the Phins to win.
Considering that Miami still has a shot to make the postseason, the Phins fans will be as rowdy as ever, awaiting another exciting game from their heart stopping squad this Sunday. The Dolphins have already exceeded expectations this season after their disappointing start, but this is also a team that won the AFC East last season, so a no-show in the playoffs definitely hurts. But there’s still a chance and if any team deserves some luck this season at the end of the road, it is this Miami Dolphins team.
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Written by Josh Souder