Both the Dolphins and Rams have had their ups and downs this season and are among the youngest teams in the league. Both teams are also in their first year with a new head coach and are attempting to change their cultures.
A win for either team on Sunday would go a long way in showing the progress of both teams. St. Louis was 2-14 in 2011, while Miami finished their season at 6-10.
In 2012 however, the Rams have already surpassed their two 2012 wins in their first five games, while Miami—who started the 2011 season 0-7—has gotten off to a 2-3 start.
My prediction for this game is that the Dolphins come out ahead by the score of 23-6, but here's why the Dolphins will head into their bye week at 3-3.
The St. Louis Rams have an offense that at first-glance makes you think they'd run the ball early, often, and well.
It turns out they do neither. Currently the Rams rank 22nd in the league in rushing yards per game, averaging 94.6 per game. This piece by ESPN's NFC West blogger Mike Sando also points out that the Rams run the ball the least in the first quarter in the NFL.
A lot of factors have gone into that however. The Rams are playing with backups at center, guard and left tackle. Stephen Jackson's health woes have also been a problem, as he suffered a groin injury in their opener against Detroit and has had his carries limited.
But if St. Louis hasn't used their running game much, one would think their passing game would thrive. Yet this isn't the case either, as they rank 30th in the league in passing, averaging 183.4 yards per game. The sad part for the Rams is that this was when they had Danny Amendola available and healthy. Amendola won't play Sunday against the Dolphins due to a clavicle injury that, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, was nearly life-threatening.
This is obviously great news for the Dolphins, a team that stops the run better than any team in the NFL, yet at times has had difficulty defending the pass.
This also sets up another positive on the side of the Dolphins defense.
Miami's defense has caused 11 sacks in their last two games.
Let that sink in for a second: 11 sacks in two games.
Granted, one of those games were against the Arizona Cardinals (who allowed the Rams eight sacks), but it's still quite an impressive number.
Like I mentioned in the last slide, St. Louis is playing backups at center, left tackle and at guard. This is never the best situation to be in on a game-to-game basis and is even worse against a front seven that is known for pressuring the quarterback.
With a running game that's depleted and a passing game that has had issues protecting the quarterback and will be without their star wide receiver, what exactly does St. Louis plan to do on offense?
Without a good offensive line, it's hard to accomplish anything on offense. But it has been the defense that has led the Rams, so one would think that the two teams would be even in that category.
Here, once again, is where you would be mistaken.
On one side of the coin you have a team that's running the ball very well, averaging 135.6 yards per game (which ranks eighth in the NFL) and 4.0 yards per carry.
On the other side is a defense that currently is allowing 117.2 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry.
I think we all know where this is going. It's the Dolphins that obviously have the 135.6 yards per game rushing, while the Rams' rush defense struggles.
Once you factor in the heat and humidity of South Florida for a 1 pm game, this isn't a good sign for the Rams' defense.
Part of Miami's rushing attack is Daniel Thomas. However Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel is reporting that Thomas will likely be sidelined this Sunday by his second concussion of the year.
But the Dolphins have as good of a backup plan as you could ask for to back up Reggie Bush, as Lamar Miller is averaging 5.5 yards per carry this season, which leads the team.
Either way, Miami's running game should make it quite a long afternoon for the Rams.
I always give credit where credit is due, and credit is due to St. Louis' pass defense, which currently ranks 12th in the league, allowing only 218.2 yards per game.
Here's the bad news: other than their Week 3 loss to the Chicago Bears, the Rams haven't faced a truly balanced team, meaning they've had the luxury of being able to dedicate most of their defense to stopping the pass.
While most of the NFL plays into the hands of this Rams' secondary, the Dolphins don't. Miami's play-calling has been the very definition of balance, as they've run 170 rushing plays and 169 passing plays.
While their aerial attack hasn't been as explosive as their running game (currently, Miami is averaging 237.8 yards per game), the league now knows that Miami can be explosive in the air thanks in part to the ever-developing Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline, the NFL's leading receiver in yards.
St. Louis can't afford to just throw all of their defensive energy towards stopping one offensive aspect. Knowing the Dolphins' rushing tendencies, they know they won't be able to rush the quarterback as much as they did against the Arizona Cardinals.
Does St. Louis let Miami beat them on the ground, or will they attempt to force Tannehill to air it out? Either way, the Dolphins have to feel very comfortable going up against this defense.
In the last two seasons, the Rams have gone 1-9 on the road. Their last road win was Week 10 of last season against the Cleveland Browns.
This season, the Rams have had the same road woes, losing to Detroit and Chicago while on the road.
The Rams are 3-0 at home, which is great, at least it would be if that's where the game was held.
But instead it will be held in South Florida, on a typical hot and humid Miami October afternoon where temperatures are expected to be in the lower to mid-80s with high humidity. Not only will the Rams have to play in that when they're used to their dome, but they will also be wearing their dark blue uniforms, which look like they would be extremely uncomfortable in the South Florida heat.
Miami, on the other hand, is already used to playing and practicing in this weather. It's also expected to be a very emotional afternoon, as Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas will be inducted into the Dolphins' ring of honor at halftime.
This just doesn't have the recipe for a St. Louis victory. The Rams will likely put up a fight rushing Tannehill, but the advantages Miami enjoys in every aspect of the game other than in the secondary and special teams will be too much for the Rams to overcome—especially in the hot South Florida sun.
Miami 23, St. Louis 6