Henderson, NEV. – As the Las Vegas Raiders (7-7) attempt to stop their season from spiraling into mediocrity, they play host to the Miami Dolphins (9-5) today.
To prepare for the big game, we asked our colleague, Alain Poupart, the Publisher of AllDolphins.com, to answer some questions about the Dolphins.
Raider Maven (RM): What is the current status of the Miami Dolphins franchise?
All Dolphins (AD): The Dolphins' status as an organization on the rise and ahead of schedule with a chance to make the playoffs just one year after undergoing a major rebuilding project. It's truly remarkable how far the Dolphins have come so quickly after basically scrapping the roster in 2019 to amass cap space and draft capital. With a core that's young and clearly very good coaching staff in place, there's no reason to think this team can't be a perennial contender for years to come.
RM: What to watch with the Miami defense?
AD: This truly is a fun defense to watch, particularly because of the way the Dolphins bring so many guys to the line of scrimmage on just about every obvious passing situation. They'll sometimes bring six or even seven guys after the quarterback, but just as easily could drop most in coverage and rush only three. The Dolphins can do that because they have such good coverage in the back end with cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones and safeties Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain (two converted cornerbacks).
RM: What to watch with the Miami offense?
AD: What you'll get from the Dolphins' offense is going to depend on which players they have available. With wide receiver DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki both out with injuries, the Dolphins turned to the running game against New England last week and got 250 yards on the ground after not gaining more than 138 in any previous game. Parker and Gesicki likely will be game-time decisions again this week, and if they're in the lineup, that clearly opens up more options in the passing game. Regardless, expect a big role for 2020 Raiders third-round pick Lynn Bowden Jr., who has become a key player for this Miami offense.
RM: How good is Tua Tagovailoa to you?
AD: If we're talking about his performance as a rookie, I would say that Tua has been efficient. The passing numbers haven't been huge, but he's also not been asked to really air it out — because the defense and special teams have been so good. More than anything, Tagovailoa has been good at not turning the ball over — his interception last week notwithstanding — and he's been able to make some plays at key times with his passing and running. In a nutshell, Tua has been a game manager for a team led by its defense and special teams, but he's been good at it. The hope is that the offensive production will increase the more he plays.
RM: What is your prediction for today's game?
AD: I made the mistake of picking against the Dolphins last week because I didn't like the matchup against New England, and I also didn't see the breakout performance from the running game coming — if anybody tells you they did, they're likely lying. That game showed me that I should never underestimate Brian Flores' ability to adjust and develop the right plan for a specific opponent. What that entails against the Raiders, I'm not too sure because we don't know yet who will and won't play. But I think we've gotten to the point where coaching alone will get Dolphins victories, and I have to think they'll find a way to take care of business against the Raiders. I would expect a close game, but let's make it 20-17, Dolphins.
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