Miami is winless this preseason, while the Cowboys have looked like potential NFC East champions at times, and disappointing underachievers at others.
Both squads will be looking to not only close out the preseason with a win on Wednesday, but also determine which players must stay and which must go in order for them to be successful this fall.
Here is everything you need to know for Wednesday night's showdown between the Fins and 'Boys in Big D.
When: Wednesday, August 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Listen: WINZ 940 AM (Miami), KRLD 105.3 FM (Dallas/Fort Worth)
Live Streaming: NFL Preseason Live
Betting Line: Cowboys (-2.5), according to Covers.com.
What's At Stake?
Although NFL champions aren't crowned during the preseason, they are no doubt formed.
Through the first three games of the exhibition season, the Miami Dolphins have looked far from a contending team, and have yet to win a single game this August. For the Fins, Wednesday's preseason finale provides them with a chance to capture some momentum heading into the season that counts.
On the other hand, very little is at stake for the Dallas Cowboys, who are sure to be an NFC contender in 2012 based on the immense amount of talent on their roster.
For Dallas, getting healthy and avoiding any additional injuries against Miami on Wednesday night will be key. A chance to compete this season is at stake for the Cowboys this week, if they can fly into September under the radar and uninjured.
As always in the preseason, roster spots are at stake for a handful of fringe players. NFL rosters will be cut from 90 players to 75 on Monday, and then will continue to shrink after that until they are each down to 53 players. Wednesday night will provide hopefuls with one final shot to excel and prove to the coaches that they can play at the highest level.
Key Dolphins Injuries
*According to CBSSports
QB David Garrard (Knee), doubtful for Wednesday
LB Karlos Dansby (Knee), questionable for Wednesday
WR Brian Hartline (Calf), questionable for Wednesday
Key Cowboys Injuries
*According to CBSSports
DL Jay Ratliff (Ankle), questionable for Wednesday
LB DeMarcus Ware (Hamstring), questionable for Wednesday
WR Miles Austin (Hamstring), questionable for Wednesday
WR Dez Bryant (Knee), questionable for Wednesday
TE Jason Witten (Spleen), doubtful for Wednesday
LB Caleb McSurdy (Achilles), likely out for season
LB Kyle Wilber, questionable for start of regular season
RB Phillip Tanner (Hand), questionable for start of regular season
Fantasy Prospect to Watch
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris made just three catches against the St. Louis Rams on Friday night, but managed to churn out 118 yards and two touchdowns.
The second-year player out of East Carolina was drafted in the sixth round by Dallas in 2011, but has looked like a star this preseason, with 173 yards and three touchdowns. No other Cowboys wide receiver has even caught a touchdown pass this summer. With that being said, Harris could be a nice sleeper pick for any fantasy owners out there still looking to draft or add pieces.
What They're Saying
The Cowboys' defense, which earned a shutout in its first preseason matchup with the Oakland Raiders, is improving as the regular season approaches. Here is what defensive back Brandon Carr had to say via The Star-Telegram's Carlos Mendez:
“We’ve got 10 days to get even more prepared. Let’s put it like that,” cornerback Brandon Carr said after Saturday night’s preseason game against the St. Louis Rams. “We are going to take advantage of all the time we have until it’s time for the game. We are already getting some looks and seeing what types of things they’re doing. It’s 10 days away, and we’re 10 days away. Let’s put it like that.”
The Cowboys will play the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on opening night September 5 at MetLife Stadium.
Miami Dolphins' veteran quarterback David Garrard has been injured most of the preseason, and could be one of the players soon cut this summer. Nevertheless, Garrard has maintained a positive attitude through it all. Here he puts his situation into perspective via The Miami Herald's Adam H. Beasley:
“Life sometimes is going to throw you lightning bolts, and you’ve got to be able to fight through them and bounce back from it,” Garrard said. “That’s all I can do. It’s unfortunate, but there’s worse things going on in this world than just me and my knee.”
Although the argument can be made that holding onto or cutting Garrard is the right decision, it's hard to argue that Miami wouldn't be losing a great character guy if they release the injured signal-caller.
Dolphins Player to Watch
Former Delaware star Pat Devlin will likely take most of the snaps for the Dolphins on Wednesday night against the Cowboys. The 24-year-old hasn't played since Miami's second preseason game against Carolina, in which he completed 13 of 20 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
With David Garrard out with a knee injury, Devlin could earn his way onto Miami's final roster with a strong outing against Dallas on the road on Wednesday. With a poor showing, Devlin could easily find himself looking for another job this fall.
Cowboys Player to Watch
With most if not all of the Cowboys' stars sidelined on Wednesday night in preparation for the season opener next week, fans should watch for a rookie free-agent running back. Lance Dunbar is a relatively unknown prospect out of North Texas, and should earn more reps in the team's final preseason showcase.
Dunbar got his nerves out of the way against St. Louis on Friday night, when he rushed the ball three times and made a catch out of the backfield. The 22-year-old will get his shot against the Dolphins, but whether he will capitalize on it is a mystery.
Which unit will win out?
The key matchup to watch for on Wednesday night will be the ground attack of the Dallas Cowboys versus the run stoppers of the Miami Dolphins.
Dallas was a below average rushing unit a season ago, ranking 18th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Dolphins ranked third in the league in stopping the run, allowing less than 96 yards per game on the ground.
Watch for the rookie Lance Dunbar to struggle early against Miami's front seven. Regardless of who prevails though, Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will be looking to uncover gems in his defense, and the same goes for Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on offense.
The Miami Dolphins have looked pitiful at times this preseason, evidenced by their 0-3 record including two home defeats.
Unfortunately, their shortcomings have been documented on HBO's Hard Knocks all summer long. I don't expect things to get any better for Joe Philbin's squad either, as they failed to make any notable additions this past offseason. I'll take the Cowboys at home.
Cowboys 24, Dolphins 10
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