The Miami Dolphin's aren't supposed to still be playing football, and according to Las Vegas, they won't be playing much longer. Vegas pits the Fins as ten-point underdogs in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the biggest dog on the slate of playoff games. Even though Miami beat Pittsburgh 30-15 in mid-October, everyone assumes the Dolphins are about to get their asses whooped by the big, bad Steelers this weekend.
Big mistake, everyone.
The Fins ended the season by reeling off nine wins in 11 games by chance. They certainly can pull off an upset of the Steelers this weekend if they stick to what got them into the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Here is why the Dolphins will waltz through Pittsburgh to Foxboro next week for a playoff game against the New England Patriots.
1. Jay Ajayi is going to get fed, and that's bad news for the Steelers.
On October 16, Ajayi had 204 yards on 25 carries against the Steelers, which was pretty shocking considering he had never done such a thing before. Since then, Ajayi has proven that day in October wasn't a fluke, but rather the beginning of an amazing sophomore year that has made him one of the Dolphins' most valuable players. If the Fins plan on beating the Steelers, running the ball is where it's at.
The Steelers surrendered 4.3 yards a game this season to running backs, while Ajayi averaged 4.9 yards per carry. You don't need to be Don Shula to know that math adds up to a Dolphins strength coupled with a Steelers weakness that should be exploited constantly.
2. Matt Moore is fully capable of keeping the Steelers' defense honest.
Ryan Tannehill is out, but Matt Moore has proven in the past three weeks that he is fully capable of keeping opposing defenses on their toes while the Dolphins starting quarterback recoups. If Ajayi is going to thrash the Steelers defense again, that means Moore will have ample opportunities in the play-action game to hit receivers in some space.
Forecasters predict a cold game in Pittsburgh — like freezing — but Moore went to college at Oregon State, so chances are he's played in low temperatures before. Moore will not be the weak link in Pittsburgh.
3. The Dolphins' defensive strength will outmuscle the Steelers' O.
How do you stop an offensive juggernaut with All-Pro players capable of gashing your defense multiple times a game? You cut off
If there is one job the Dolphins defense thrives on, it's getting to the quarterback. With Cam Wake, Ndamukong Suh, and the rest of the Dolphins' defensive line healthy and ready to go, Big Ben will find it difficult to find his receivers from his ass.
4. Miami's wide receivers will make big plays.
The Dolphins have had a reputation as a team with subpar cornerbacks, but the stats suggest that is the Steelers' big weakness. Pittsburgh actually gave up more yards per game in the air this season (242.6) than the Fins. The Steelers don't exactly have a group of cornerbacks that strike fear in the opposing offense, and the Dolphins don't have a group of wideouts that scare easily anyway
Between Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker, Miami has plenty of
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5. The 2016-17 Miami Dolphins are full of surprises.
If there is one thing we've learned about this Adam Gase-led team, it's that the Dolphins are unbothered about what you think or expect of them. Ten-point underdogs? Hell, make it 30 — you're not lining up against them on Sunday. When this team was 1-4, everyone was shoveling dirt on them, but against all odds, they pulled up their big-boy pants and won nine of 11 to get themselves into the playoffs.
Count the Miami Dolphins out if you'd like, but if you're assuming a team the Fins have already beaten will just walk all over them this Sunday, that's a mistake.