I'm picking the Dolphins to win Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars have significant injuries throughout the roster -- including at running back where starter Maurice Jones-Drew is out and backup Rashad Jennings is out. They have the worst record in the league, along with the Kansas City Chiefs, at 2-11.
Honestly, if the Dolphins do not win today then something is seriously wrong and we might need to re-think everything.
But if you look at the breakdown below, you should come to understand that the Dolphins have advantages in practically every phase of the game as it stacks up.
When the Dolphins run the ball: The Dolphins go from playing one of the NFL’s best defenses one week to one of the worst this week and a reason for that is Jacksonville has been terrible stopping the run. The Jaguars are 31st out of 32 teams against the run. That bodes well for the Dolphins because Reggie Bush is making his push for his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. Miami is in transition, however, as last week Lamar Miller got more carries than Daniel Thomas, who was relegated to third down duty. One assumes that will continue this week otherwise the Dolphins will look like they are merely grasping wildly for answers instead of employing lineup changes for logical reasons. The offensive line remains the same. Look for more of that successful center sweep in which Mike Pouncey leads Bush around the corner. ADVANTAGE: Miami.
When the Dolphins pass the ball: Ryan Tannehill finished poorly last week when he threw four consecutive incompletions on a possession where Miami had a chance to tie the game. He needs to wipe that bitter taste from his mouth and the Jaguars offer the perfect defense to cleanse the palate. Jacksonville is not as terrible against the pass as the run, but bad nonetheless. The Jags are 24th in the NFL against the pass. Brian Hartline may have to carry the workload on the outside because Davone Bess is slowed by injury and will notplay. The Jaguars are dead last in the NFL in sacks so Tannehill should mostly have time to throw but the addition of sack specialist Jason Babin makes for a tough match up against Miami’s tackles. ADVANTAGE: Miami.
When the Jaguars run the ball: Maurice Jones-Drew has been a premier running back in the NFL for several years. But don’t worry because the Dolphins aren’t going to face him because he’s been out for weeks with a foot injury. And they’re probably not going to see his backup Rashad Jennings because he’s trying to overcome a concussion. So the Dolphins get the third man up that is, well, who knows? The team has been using backup fullback Montell Owens as its primary ball carrier while Keith Toston is listed as the No. 3 running back on the depth chart. Statistically, the Dolphins had a terrible day defending the run last week because they yielded 155 yards and a 5.5-yard per carry average to the 49ers. But 50 of those yards came on a TD by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is a great running threat, out of the spread option. The Jaguars are not likely to employ that look. ADVANTAGE: Miami.
When the Jaguars pass the ball: Cameron Bradfield, a second-year player, will be matched against Dolphins sack leader Cameron Wake. It seems like a mismatch and it is. But the Jaguars, believe it or not, have bigger problems. They spent much of last week figuring out who would start at left guard because Mike Brewster is on injured reserve and Eben Britton was bad in replacement duty against the Jets. So the Jaguars plugged in recently acquired Steve Vallos as a possible option. The Jaguars also lost wide receiver Laurent Robinson to injured reserve because of several concussions he suffered and leading receiver Cecil Shorts is also trying come back from a concussion. Oh, and did I mention Chad Henne is Jacksonville’s quarterback? The Dolphins castoff is a good guy and a hard worker. Problem is he has yet to prove he’s a good NFL quarterback. ADVANTAGE: Miami.
Special teams: The Dolphins need to stop the bleeding with this unit because it has allowed or led to opposing touchdown in four consecutive games. Last week, it was a fumbled punt inside the 10-yard line. This unit is hurting the team’s chances of winning the past few weeks. This unit can’t blow it on a big play a fifth week in a row, can it? It seems about as likely as a punter pushing around a linebacker. Oh, wait Brandon Fields did that last week. ADVANTAGE: Even.
Coaching: Two rookie coaches. Two losing teams. Both out of the playoffs. Both looking for answers and not finding many. ADVANTAGE: Even.