MNF Preview & Podcast: Colts-Dolphins Analysis and Prediction

Midwest Sports FansAnalyst ISeptember 18, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Ricky Williams #34 of the Miami Dolphins against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 13, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: AJ Kaufman’s weekly MNF coverage on MSF is sponsored by Sadler’s Smokehouse, a producer of premium pit smoked meats that are best described by Sadler’s slogan: Legendary since 1948.

Sadler’s premium meats are perfect for tailgating on Saturday, for grilling out at home on Sunday, or for when you are hosting a group of friends, or even just the family, on Monday night.

With a variety of delicious choices (beef, pork, ribs, turkey, brisket, and more) and availability at grocery stores throughout the U.S., Sadler’s meats are the tasty, convenient choice when you want to watch the big game and eat well while you’re doing it.

  • Check out Sadler’s Monday Night Football Recipe of the Week: Shaved Pork Loin Quesadillas
  • Each week, you can also listen to the MSF Monday Night Football Podcast, brought to you by Sadler’s. In this week’s edition, Jerod and Big MB debate whether Miami or Indianapolis will come out on top Monday night and whether or not it’s true that Colts fans are both fair-weather. 
  • Follow the link to listen to the MSF Podcast on iTunes, or just click play below and listen right here on the page.


Monday Night Football Preview

Indianapolis Colts (1-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-1)

  • Date: Monday, Sept. 21
  • Time: 8:30 p.m.
  • TV Network: ESPN
  • Announcers: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden
  • Point Spread: Colts -3.5
  • Over-Under: 42
  • Pick by JRod: The Colts will be without a proven No. 2 WR and have no running game to speak of. With the Dolphins coming off of a terrible loss, I think the Parcells-Sparano combo has them ready to play. I think the Dolphins actually win this game outright in front of their home fans on Monday night. They’ll certainly cover 3.5 points. Colts-Dolphins spread pick: Dolphins +3.5.


Colts-Dolphins Analysis

Most Colts fans I know are usually optmistic, often blindly so. After last week’s 14-12 triumph over the subpar Jags in Indianapolis, however, many were not.

Even those over-analyzing and looking for pros and cons—down to the season as a whole—relayed guarded optimism at best, significant concerns about injuries and the running game at worst.

The Colts could not convert on short fourth downs, similar to last year’s playoffs when it directly cost them the game at San Diego. Despite the win last Sunday, Indy lost the turnover battle badly and did little on the ground. In addition to the injury to the team’s No. 2 receiver, Anthony Gonzalez, oft-injured Bob Sanders (and his $7 million dollar contract) remains unavailable this week, out indefinitely it seems.

Therefore, I simply am not as sanguine as most others about the next few weeks of Colts football.
Though Indianapolis held on versus the Jags, it was far from spectacular. Overall, Peyton Manning was very good, with more than 300 yards in the air. Like in 2008 when he won his third MVP, he may have to carry this team on his shoulders if they are to achieve their sixth consecutive 12-win season. (And no, the team is not re-signing Marvin Harrison for obvious reasons not needing enumeration.)
The next step for the Colts is southward to Miami for a primetime special on Monday night.
Indianapolis can take solace in the fact that Miami’s “Wildcat” offense was listless in a 19-7 loss to Atlanta. Their focus is on shoring up the porous offensive line that will have to play better this week if they expect to have any chance of contending Monday night, much less throughout the season. The Dolphins lost three fumbles, threw an interception, and were nearly shut out. A late fourth-quarter touchdown made the game look closer than it actually was.
Miami had a plus-17 turnover differential last year. Was the Atlanta game an early sign that perhaps things won’t be the same in 2009?

Chad Pennington, who had just seven turnovers all of last year, had two last Sunday (an interception and a fumble). Though he was 21 for 29, Pennington threw for just 176 yards, which gives him a pretty weak average of just over six yards per attempt.

Returning to pass protection, the Falcons—not known for being able to get after the quarterback consistently—registered four sacks.
The Dolphins only used Pat White for three “Wildcat” plays during week one’s game, and on one of those plays he overthrew Ted Ginn, who was wide open and may have had a touchdown on the play. Using White more would likely allow him to get into a rhythm. With the Wildcat offense being an epic failure in the Atlanta game, however, garnering just four yards, is this fad fading?
This all established, Ricky Williams looked very quick and agile on Sunday, dispelling preseason talk from ESPN that he had lost a step. Still, one has to question if it’s the best thing for the Dolphins to keep Ronnie Brown—arguably the Dolphins' most explosive offensive player—out for long stretches of the game simply because Williams is running the ball well. The Dolphins’ run defense was also solid, holding Atlanta’s Michael Turner to just 65 yards. Miami was 10th in the league last season at stopping the run.
An additional positive to note about the defending AFC East champions is the apparent resurgence of 35-year-old Jason Taylor. After a great preseason, Taylor proved he’s legit in 2009, starting off the regular season the right way with a sack. If he can regain the form that made him a perennial Pro Bowler, then the Dolphins may not have to rely on their offense as much throughout the year…and judging how they looked Week One, that could be a good thing.


Colts-Dolphins Prediction

My semi-confident prediction is that these two teams, who combined for only 21 points in week one, will score more this week. 

But even with that potential for a low score, I think the Colts will find enough to cover the small spread.