Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins
Site: Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, Florida)
The Seahawks return after their bye week this week as they head to South Beach to face the Miami Dolphins. This is the first of six games to conclude the regular season for the Seahawks and the first of three road games. The Seahawks head into this game with a 6-4 record, clinging onto an NFC wild-card spot while they are trying to make up ground in the NFC West. The Miami Dolphins come into this game with a 4-6 record and they have lost their last three games. With a win, the Dolphins could get back into AFC wild-card contention. The Dolphins have a 9-4 all-time advantage against the Seahawks. In their last meeting in 2008, the Dolphins held on to beat Seattle 21-19 in Miami. The Dolphins and their newly schemed wildcat offense went on to win the AFC East that year while the Seahawks finished the season 4-12. There will be plenty to be looking for out of the Seahawks coming off the bye. Here is what I am looking for.
The number one thing I will be looking for out of the Seahawks this week is continually building offensive momentum on the road. The Dolphins are ranked 9th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, meaning Marshawn Lynch may have trouble getting going this week. On the other hand, Miami is ranked 27th in pass yards allowed. The last time the Seahawks played on the road was in Detroit four weeks ago. In that game Russell Wilson showed significant improvement passing. After two home games and an extra week of preparation, I am hoping Wilson can play another decent game this week. I do expect to see some rust being shaken off early but I do not expect it to last for an extended period of play. A good game from Wilson this week includes minimal turnovers. Wilson has made several mistakes on the road this year in terms of errant passes. If he is relaxed and does not force throws like he has in the past, I do not see a problem with the way our offense plays.
On defense, the biggest problem facing the Seahawks on the road is stopping the opposition on third down. In Detroit, the Lions were successful on third down conversions about 75 percent of the time. In order to stop Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins from moving the chains, pressure will be the main key for the Seahawks defense. Being an inexperienced rookie quarterback, Tannehill has made several mistakes over the past couple of weeks. He has thrown five interceptions in his last two games and only one touchdown. This week the Seahawks will have Jason Jones back along the inside and K.J. Wright will also be back after sitting out the Jets game with an injury. I think Chris Clemons will be the defensive player of the game for the Seahawks this week with a pair of sacks. I think four or five sacks by the defense will get the job done and Tannehill and the Dolphins will make a couple of crucial mistakes because of the pressure.
The Seahawks secondary is a group I definitely will be looking at this week. Brandon Browner will line up against Brian Hartline this week and Richard Sherman will line up with Davone Bess but keep a look out for how Seattle uses cornerback Walter Thurmond. The injury-prone Thurmond will be playing his first game this season after recovering from a broken leg which he suffered in a game against Cleveland last season. Thurmond may be used in nickel packages and may see some time in the slot. Thurmond will get a fair amount of playing time and I will be looking at his speed. Before his broken leg Thurmond was one of the fastest players on defense. If he is covering Bess or even going after Reggie Bush should the opportunity present itself, it will be fascinating to see how well Thurmond can keep up.
In all honestly to the common fan, the Miami Dolphins may be one of the most boring teams in the National Football League. The Dolphins were featured on the HBO series “Hard Knocks” during training camp and the preseason and did not give the audience the flare that the series has given in past years. The Dolphins and first year head coach Joe Philbin have done a good job in putting together a good mix of young and old talent and have proven that they can win games; they are not the pushover a lot of fans predicted them to be at the start of the season. The biggest weapon on offense for the Dolphins is running back Reggie Bush. Bush has the capability to make explosive plays if he can get out in the open. The Seahawks need to do a good job of making contact with Bush in order to slow him down. On defense, Cameron Wake continues to be one of the premier pass rushers in the league. He has 9.5 sacks so far on the season and will most likely make the pro bowl once again this season. One guy to keep an eye on this week is outside linebacker Kevin Burnett. Burnett is tied for second on the team in tackles with 44 and with Karlos Dansby dominating in the middle, positive plays to the left may come at a premium for the Seahawks this week.
Random Thoughts: The Dolphins have a home-field advantage that is continually swept under the rug; the weather. Game-time weather conditions are usually hot and humid. This week the high is supposed to be in the mid 70’s so weather hopefully is not a big issue… The Seahawks will most likely wear blue jerseys this week as the Dolphins will wear white. I hope the Seahawks debut the white pants this week… All of our remaining road games are 10am starts. Ouch… It’s too bad I didn’t make this game our road trip this year. I would not mind sipping on an ice cold beer while lying on the beach… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call once again on FOX this week. Oh joy!… Ryan Tannehill’s wife Lauren is smoking hot. Just saying… My friend James is coming over for the game this week. Super excited since he hasn’t been over for a game yet this season… McDonald’s breakfast may be a must this week before the game… It feels good to be back on the blog after this nice break!
Prediction: I feel that a lot of my friends are expecting the Seahawks to win rather easily. I think this game could be a bit sloppy. It is always hard to win on the road and the Seahawks have proven this, only winning one game on the road so far this season. We are catching the Dolphins at just the right time, as they are starting to slip away from playoff contention. I think the Seahawks will win but it will be a lot closer than most people think.
Seahawks 26, Dolphins 23
Stay tuned for my review of the Dolphins game on Monday afternoon. Thanks everybody. It is good to be back writing. Go Seahawks!