The Oakland Raiders face the Miami Dolphins this Sunday in what should be called a must-win game on both sides. The result hinges on whether the Raiders can stop an inconsistent Dolphin rushing attack.
With Brandon Marshall unlikely to make the trip and the quarterback situation up in the air, the Dolphins will surely rely heavily on the two-headed monster of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Don't expect to see only seven rushing attempts like last Thursday night against the Bears, unless this game gets out of hand early.
If the Raiders' much-improved run defense comes up big, this could be an easy win for Oakland. If the Dolphins run the ball effectively, especially early in the game, things could be much more difficult.
Thankfully, the Raiders will have both starting defensive tackles available to help the cause. Both Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour were fined for separate incidents in last Sunday's game against the Steelers, but neither received a suspension.
I usually never agree with Steeler fans, but they are spot-on in their assessment that had Peyton Manning or Tom Brady on the receiving end of Seymour's punch; the Raider would have been suspended. They are right, totally.
Of course, what they fail to understand is that Manning and Brady probably wouldn't have taunted Seymour the way Big Ben did, nor have Brady or Manning been linked to any incidents that embarrassed the league or the Commissioner. You reap what you sow, thus Seymour will be on the field.
So that being said, defend the run and win the game. If the Dolphins don't run for at least 150 yards, they will lose. Pretty simple.
Other areas will factor in. Turnovers, special team play, the Raiders' ability to run the ball themselves. None are as important as stopping the Dolphin running game.
I think the Raiders will do just that on Sunday, and I think they'll win. Let's go with a 26-10 Oakland victory.