GAME PREVIEW POST SEASON MIAMI AT PITTSBURGH
We Have Heard It All Before
The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to win blah blah, they are big favourites blah blah, they have Ben, Bell and Brown blah de blah, stop; just stop, the Miami Dolphins need to be shown some respect. You don't win ten games in a season by pure luck, and you certainly don't with the amount of injuries suffered throughout the season. And then there is the large grey mammal in the room, it wasn't that long ago that the Dolphins beat up the Steelers and Jay Ajayi ran all over them. Why shouldn't Miami win again, they did go on to win a further eight games after that victory.
One advantage that the Steelers have this time round is home field, it is going to be loud and cold. Miami did catch a break when they were scheduled in for Sunday afternoon rather than the evening, as such they will be playing in temperatures not dissimilar to the Bills and Jets games, they managed to operate pretty well that day but the noise levels are going to be sky high at Heinz field.This will create communication issues for Matt Moore and could result in time-outs being wasted.
How is the health of both teams, well for the Dolphins Byron Maxwell doesn't look as though he will be ready, Ryan Tannehill did practice on a limited basis but he has already been ruled out for the game. The only other notables are Jelani Jenkins and Bacarri Rambo, they were limited but should play in some capacity which will be good as their will be more depth. The Steelers should be more concerned as they will be without the services of starting DE Ricardo Mathews and there other starting DE Stephon Tuitt was on the injury report at the start of the week. It doesn't stop there because they could be struggling with depth as LB's Anthony Chickillo and Vince Williams together with S Robert Golden are either out or questionable. With limited rotation and a back-up defensive end playing it goes to say that Jay Ajayi is going to get his chances.
Will he be playing with a large fried potato on his shoulder, one would think so if he has been reading all the reports coming out this week about how Pittsburgh have a lot of talent. Ajayi has said that it is kind of starting to get to him where you have to understand that Miami has players too. It isn't as if the Dolphins are lacking playmakers as they have a 1000 yard receiver in Landry, a guy who scored nine touchdowns in Kenny Stills and Devante Parker who can take it to the house on any play. We should see a running back that runs harder than usual and is out to silence the critics. It didn't help that New England dismantled Miami last week but that may be an advantage and could be the wake up call they needed as they can't afford to play at the same level again if they want to progress past this week.
The key for Miami winning is stopping the obvious stars for Pittsburgh, they need to key on Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown and make Ben Roethlisburger's day miserable, if they can apply pressure and effect his timing then it will limit his effectiveness. If he does get time to throw to Brown then Miami could be in trouble. Last time Maxwell made him a non factor but as mentioned is probably out so it will be down to Xavien Howard and Tony Lippett to keep Brown contained. The defense as a unit needs to lift its level of play and that starts with better tackling, the extra yard here and there all makes for shorter 3rd downs and Pittsburgh can't be afforded that, stopping players at the point of possession is a must.
Matt Moore is going to get his 4th start and needs to play clever football, he can't try and push the ball into places that won't fit. It isn't as if Moore isn't up to the task, he is more than capable but the difference between him and Ryan Tannehill is that his short game isn't as good and that is where it matters, take away the long ball and Moore becomes less effective. It could well be that he has taken time to adjust and get back into playing speed, we truly hope so because it is a case of one and done and Tannehill is tantalisingly close to coming back. It would be a shame to go out in the first round to a team that they have already beaten knowing that your starting quarterback could be healthy the week after.
Don't give up on Miami just yet, they have turned things around and have delivered a season most hadn't expected. If they don't manage to get past Pittsburgh you have to look to next season and the possibilities that 2017 could bring. They are going to have money to spent and a chance of drafting some much needed defensive help, all the starters that were lost through the season will be back and the offense will have another training camp to refine the play-book. This is definitely a team on the rise and barring any major losses or injuries could be a force to be reckoned with next year.