5 Reasons Why the Miami Dolphins Will Beat Baltimore in Week 5
We're not still mad and pessimistic about last Monday night's dreadful Miami Dolphins performance, are we?
We shouldn't be, that was last week, a week when the Dolphins faced a truly elite team in one of the toughest environments in the league on a night when said team seems to dominate.
What the Miami Dolphins should do is move on and focus on the next opponent at hand.
That opponent is the Baltimore Ravens. They are 2-2 and the defending Super Bowl champions. I didn't have to tell you that.
Currently they themselves are smarting after losing to a Buffalo Bills team that picked off Joe Flacco five times, then allowed the Bills to run for 206 yards.
Even though their margin of defeat against Buffalo was three, their loss was likely just as embarrassing as Miami's loss to the Saints, so we should expect an angry Ravens team.
But I don't just expect an angry Ravens squad, I expect something else: a Miami Dolphins victory.
That's right, despite the poor showing against New Orleans, I fully expect the Dolphins to win this game over the Baltimore Ravens. I'll even give you my prediction right here:
Miami Dolphins 27, Baltimore Ravens 20.
How will they get there? Read on to find out!
1. See, Miami DOES Have a Running Game, One That the Ravens Can't Stop
The Dolphins' run game has the potential to be a good one, and it was potential that we saw throughout the first half of the game when the Dolphins ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, with Lamar Miller gaining 57 of those yards on 10 carries.
Miami couldn't run the ball in the second half the way they wanted to due to falling behind because of turnovers and sacks towards the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. Had it not been for those turnovers, we would've seen a different ball game.
Despite being pass-heavy in the second half, the Dolphins still managed to run for 115 yards on 19 attempts as a team, with Miller leading the charge with 62 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, good for an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
So Miami can run the ball, but what exactly does that mean against Baltimore?
Take a look at the Ravens' run defense and it means a clear advantage Miami has going into the game. The Ravens are currently ranked 16th against the run, allowing 106.8 yards per game.
The Buffalo Bills were able to exploit this weakness by running for 203 yards on 55 carries, with 109 of those yards coming straight up the middle.
Now the Dolphins likely won't be running the ball 55 times, but that number should at least be in the 20s. With that number in the 20s, the majority of the carries should go to Lamar Miller. Ryan Tannehill should get a handful of carries as well, with Daniel Thomas being nowhere near the football field at any time during the game.
Will the Dolphins do that? Sadly I don't trust Mike Sherman to adjust to the opponent's weakness and exploit it the way it should.
However if he does and Miami is able to get the ground game going, the game will become that much easier for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
2. The Ravens' Pass Protection Is Lacking (even with the Eugene Monroe Trade)
I'm trying to turn my snark on, but it's worth saying.
Michael Oher has done more for Sandra Bullock than he has for Joe Flacco.
Bullock won the Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Oher's guardian Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side.
Joe Flacco on the other hand may be a Super Bowl champion, but Oher hasn't exactly been the best offensive lineman for Flacco or the Ravens.
Currently he is Baltimore's right tackle (ironically not protecting the blind side), but with the Ravens' trade for Jacksonville's Eugene Monroe, that could possibly change.
As the bookend to Oher, you have Bryant McKinnie, who's been one of the worst offensive linemen in the NFL this season to not play for the Miami Dolphins.
As a whole, the Ravens have allowed 12 sacks in four games this season, which isn't as many as the Dolphins have allowed, but still a concerning enough number that caused the Ravens to make the trade for Monroe (and make me wonder why Jeff Ireland didn't step up to the plate to make an offer considering the Ravens are only giving up two mid-round picks).
As much as Monroe helps the Ravens' offensive line, either McKinnie or Oher will still wind up on the opposite side, which brings me back to last season when Monroe played for the Jaguars and Jacksonville played Miami.
Monroe was excellent in that game, not allowing any pressure on Chad Henne, but that's because the right side of the Jaguars offensive line was a virtual turnstile.
It's easy to see something similar occurring, especially with the possibility of Cameron Wake returning this week. Add in a very good pass rush up the middle thanks to Jared Odrick and the return of Paul Soliai, and the Dolphins can make it a very long afternoon for Joe Flacco.
Speaking of Flacco...
3. So Far in 2013, the Dolphins Have Had the Better Quarterback
One quarterback has a QB rating of 85.3 and is 3-1 after a tough four game stretch to start the season. The only reason his quarterback rating is in the 80s is due to a horrifically bad game against an excellent team in Week 4 that appears to be more of a fluke game than a harbinger of things to come.
The other quarterback has a QB rating of 69.4 and is 2-2 after a four game stretch that included two games against teams considered at the start of the season to be "elite" and two other teams that were considered doormats at the beginning of the season.
The reason his QB rating is so low isn't due to one bad game (even though he did have a bad game on the road), but rather due to his inconsistent play through the first four games of the season.
You'd think Joe Flacco would be the quarterback described up top, but you are wrong: that's Ryan Tannehill. Flacco is the second quarterback described.
Flacco hasn't been able to put it together for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that Anquan Boldin is in San Francisco, but the other reason has been Baltimore's pass protection (highlighted in the previous slide).
Baltimore's pass protection might have gotten better this week, but Flacco can say that one player has had it worse when it comes to pass protection: Ryan Tannehill.
Despite that, Ryan Tannehill is 3-1 with the tougher schedule and a better passer rating.
It's a small sample size, but it's also something worth noting. Usually the team with the better quarterback winds up winning the game, and for this game, despite past accomplishments, Miami has the better quarterback.
Halftime/NFL Picks of the Week
OK, we all know the joke here: the Dolphins played so badly on Monday that I felt like crying, so I put on some Drake.
In all seriousness, I'm a fan of this video as a long time fan of the show Miami Vice (not the bad 2006 Collin Ferrell movie). It felt like an episode of Vice, all that was missing was Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, and these credits to end the show.
In the video, Aubrey Graham managed to take it back to the 1980s. The hope is that the Miami Dolphins can do the same this season, specifically 1984.
Anyways, onto this week's picks.
HOME TEAM IN CAPS
Buffalo (+3.5) over Cleveland
So this game might not be as bad as we first thought when we saw it on the schedule. I take Buffalo in a close one though, they are the better overall team.
NOTE: This piece was to be published on Thursday morning. Sadly, our handsome writer's internet went out due to a Wednesday night rain storm, not coming back until Thursday evening. I promise you, he picked Buffalo prior to the game, and to add validity to that, Cleveland wound up beating them, so there's that.
ST. LOUIS (-11) over Jacksonville
I really don't think the Rams are that good that they should be favored by 11 over any NFL team.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are NOT an NFL caliber team.
Kansas City (-2.5) over TENNESSEE
If Jake Locker were healthy, I'd take the Titans here.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-1) over Philadelphia
If the Giants are to get their first win of the season, here's where it happens.
MIAMI (-3) over Baltimore
A lot of people are talking about how Baltimore is going to be "fired up" after their loss to the Bills.
Do they really think the Dolphins won't be as fired up? Please.
INDIANAPOLIS (+1) over Seattle
Detroit (+7) over GREEN BAY
In fact, I'd say the Lions' losing streak in Green Bay will end this week.
CINCINNATI (PK) over New England
The Patriots will lose on the road to a team Miami will beat at home. Don't go trolling Pats fans over that when it happens though, we're Dolphins fans. We have class.
New Orleans (PK) over CHICAGO
How is this a pick-em? Saints should be favored by three after factoring home field.
ARIZONA (+1.5) over Carolina
Home team pick here.
Denver (-7.5) over DALLAS
Broncos by 10 at minimum.
SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5) over Houston
I don't think the Texans are that good this year.
San Diego (-4.5) over OAKLAND
Extra Sunday Night Football! Thanks Baseball! Speaking of baseball, my quick picks: TB over BOS in 5, DET over OAK in 4, LAD over ATL in 5, STL over PIT in 4. I'll give you my LCS/World Series picks when we get to that point.
ATLANTA (-9.5) over New York Jets
This is the game where the Falcons take out their frustrations from a 1-3 start. Will it turn their season around? Not just yet, but it should get their confidence up a tad.
This Week: 0-1 (0-1 vs. Spread)
Last Week: 10-5 (10-5 vs. Spread)
Overall: 39-26 (30-29-4 vs. Spread).
4. Ray Rice Just Hasn't Been Himself
Due to injuries, Ray Rice has only played in three games and rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
The average of three yards per carry isn't exactly something to write home about either. Currently Daniel Thomas has more touchdowns, and Lamar Miller has run for more yards.
So what is up with Ray Rice? Without him being himself, the Ravens' offense is at a virtual standstill. The main reason for Flacco's struggles this season can be pointed to Rice's problems running the ball.
Now Rice goes against one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Paul Soliai is back and based off of Monday showed little to no ill effects of an injury that cost him the chance to play against the Falcons. Olivier Vernon played well against the Saints as well, showing why he won the starting job at right defensive end.
Miami's run defense is ready to stop anyone, and while Rice is the type of back that can beat the Dolphins, he has looked diminished, which will make Miami's run defense look that much better.
5. The Ravens Road Woes
The Ravens road to the Super Bowl last season included victories in Denver and New England en route to New Orleans.
They were road warriors in the truest sense of the word, winning at two of the toughest places to play in the AFC with the highest stakes possible.
This season, not so much.
Their first loss came on opening night in Denver, but you can excuse that since no one can seem to beat Denver anywhere at this time.
But then came Week 4, when they lost in Buffalo for many of the reasons highlighted in this slideshow. The same reasons that the Dolphins will prevail on Sunday.
The Ravens haven't shown the ability to win on the road in 2013, while the Dolphins are playing in their second home game of the season.
Expect the Dolphins to run their home record to 2-0 while the Ravens drop to 0-3 away from Baltimore.
Why the Ravens Will Win
Here's what scares me about the Ravens: their pass rush up against Miami's offensive line.
Can Jonathan Martin handle Terrell Suggs? Can Tyson Clabo handle Elvis Dumervil?
I'm confident in Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito up against Haloti Ngata, but the edges is where the Ravens will do their main pass rushing damage.
Meanwhile on offense, for all of Flacco's struggles, Torrey Smith is still a major deep threat for the Ravens, and one connection between the two deep might be more than enough to open up their offense.
Other than that, I don't see anything that could strongly convince me that the Dolphins will lose to the Ravens on Sunday.
Everything points to what I predicted at the very beginning.
Dolphins 27, Ravens 20
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