Texans vs. Dolphins: 7 Reasons Why Sunday's Game is a Must Win For Miami
Miami is coming off of a pure, old-fashioned butt-whipping, and on Sunday they'll face off with a team that they've never defeated: the Houston Texans.
These two teams couldn't be more opposite right now. Houston is coming off an impressive and dominating win over the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts, while the Dolphins are coming off an embarrassing defeat to the New England Patriots, where the score was closer than the actual game itself.
One could make the argument that in the NFL, every game is a must win; however, it's usually not the end of the world if a team starts 0-2 (as the Dolphins proved in 2008 when they started 0-2 but then finished 11-5).
I beg to differ. This game is extremely important for Miami to win; if not, their season will only continue to go on a downward spiral.
But why is it so important for Miami to win on Sunday? Why should the Dolphins treat it like a playoff game?
1. Sell Tickets
Sunday's Texans-Dolphins matchup is likely to be blacked out in South Florida.
For the Dolphins, it will be the first time they've had a local blackout since 1998.
Obviously, selling tickets is important.
Stephen Ross and company have tried everything possible to sell tickets. I've even tried to sell tickets. But in sports, the only thing that sells tickets is winning.
After their matchup against the Texans, the Dolphins will go on the road to take on Cleveland, followed by San Diego. Then they'll go into their bye week before their Monday night matchup against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.
Their next game in Miami is on October 23rd, and they already have a gimmick set up for that game. However, tickets are still available.
A win on Sunday would not only be a step in the right direction for the team, but could also help to sell tickets for their next game in South Florida a month later.
2. Reassert Defensive Dominance
Miami's defense was caught with their pants down on Monday night.
This isn't up for debate, they were just atrocious. Odds are the Dolphins allowed more yards and points than my high school alma mater's football team (Columbus Explorers, ranked No. 1 in Florida's Class 8A division) would've.
Hell, they were so bad that it's a miracle that the Pats only scored 38 points. The yardage alone, namely Brady's 517 passing yards, would suggest that New England got the score into the 50s.
This isn't the defense as we thought they would be.
Houston is an offensive juggernaut, not at the same pace that the Patriots are, but still powerful.
Miami's secondary will have a hard time with Andre Johnson, who Brandon Marshall even said was the best receiver in the NFL.
For the Dolphins' defense to prove why they are a top-five defense, they have to reassert their dominance against Houston.
If they can do that, then we can chalk up the New England game as the aberration I think it is.
3. Reclaim Home-Field Advantage
New England has more wins at Sun Life Stadium since the start of last season than the Dolphins.
Let's read that again.
New England has more wins at Sun Life Stadium since the start of last season than the Dolphins.
Here's the problem with that: New England only plays in Miami once year. The Dolphins play in Miami eight times a year.
Yes, home-field advantage is a problem in the sense that it doesn't exist.
Last season, Miami finished 1-7 at home. Here's the depressing part (as if it could get anymore depressing): They were 6-2 on the road.
Since 2009, the Dolphins are 5-12 at Sun Life Stadium, losing 10 out of their last 11 home games.
If this continues, it will become a massive mental block that will be difficult to overcome.
4. It's Not Going to Get Any Easier for Miami
After the Texans, the Dolphins travel to Cleveland to face an improved Browns team from the one that beat them in Miami last December.
That's followed by a tough road game against San Diego, a bye week, then a Monday night game in the Meadowlands.
Miami could possibly wind up 0-5 going into their next home game against Denver.
Factor in their schedule after that, which includes another trip to the Meadowlands to play the Giants, followed by a road trip to Kansas City, then a tough Washington team, and an improved Bills team twice, well, you see where this is going.
These games are winnable, but they have to beat Houston, or else their playoff hopes already significantly diminish.
5. Miami Has Never Beat Houston and Is Bad at Home...but There's Hope
We already mentioned the Dolphins' home woes in graphic detail, so now for another stat that bodes terribly for Sunday's game.
Houston is 5-0 against the Dolphins.
Yes, Miami still has had yet to beat the Texans, and each game has been within one score.
But there's hope.
Houston finished last season losing their final six road games.
In other words, either two things will give (Miami's woes at home and against Houston) or one thing (Houston's woes on the road).
It's sad that a once proud franchise would look at beating the Houston Texans, in only their 10th year of existence, as a top achievement.
But that's exactly where the Dolphins are now.
6. Winning Will Continue to Build Chad Henne's Confidence
I read a great story on ESPN about Chad Henne.
Now, take a look at the comments and the number of people who actually blamed Chad for the loss!
Thankfully, I haven't seen any of that here on Bleacher Report. People who saw the game can only cite two Henne failures, both within the red zone when the obvious call was to run the ball.
But of course on that site, people blamed Henne for the loss, saying he wasn't "clutch."
I didn't know Henne had to play cornerback as well.
Personal opinion: The people who blame Henne for the loss are as big of idiots as people who believe the Illuminati actually exists (and those are the biggest idiots in the world, and for the record, it doesn't, but "Illuminati Swag" by O'Grime does exist and is a great track).
Daniel Thomas should come back, which should be a good thing for Miami despite the fact that he hasn't looked too impressive in training camp or during the preseason. And Houston's defense can get past the quarterback, but their secondary still has problems.
If Henne has a great game on Sunday, Miami should win.
7. Houston Is a Good Test for Miami, One They Must Pass
Despite Miami's problems against Houston, I don't have a problem making fun of them.
I only do it with the nickname I've bestowed on them: The Houston 8-8's.
Reason being of course is that it seems that NFL teams from Houston seem doomed to finish either 7-9, 9-7 or 8-8 (the average of 7-9 and 9-7).
And it doesn't help that it felt like the same thing happened with the Oilers when they were in Houston, followed by them moving to Tennessee and becoming the Titans where they went to the Super Bowl in only their third year there.
But this year things seem to be different.
They're the best team in a bad division, and the only one good enough (but not on the same level) as the AFC's Power Five of the Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, Ravens and Jets. (Once upon a time, when Peyton Manning was healthy and at quarterback, it was the Power Six with the Colts.)
What kind of a message would be sent if the Dolphins went out and beat Houston then?
On one hand, they're a potential division winner, and since they have an easier schedule than either of the teams in the aforementioned AFC Power Five, could sneak in and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs. (If they go 6-0 in their division, which is doable, at worst they're 11-5.)
But on the other hand, no matter what record Houston ends the season with, they're not New England, Pittsburgh, New York, Baltimore or San Diego. The only one of those teams I could see them beating in the playoffs, whether it's at home or the road, is San Diego.
Plus, if Miami wins, nobody will talk about the Patriots game being an aberration. Instead, they'll look at Houston and go "same old Texans, follow up a big victory with a defeat to a team they should've beaten easily."
But inside the Dolphins' locker room it will be different.
Beating Houston will send a message, even though it might only be an internal message, but a message nonetheless that Miami can compete with, at the very least, a second-tier AFC team.
Then maybe someone other than myself or the rest of the B/R Dolphins Featured Columnists will take notice of the win and talk about the Dolphins winning and not the Texans losing (assuming that will happens, of course).
First off, Happy 50th Birthday to the greatest pure passer of all time, Dan Marino!
As a birthday treat, I present to you the final drive from what is still my favorite Dolphins game of all time: opening day against New England in 1994. Coming off of a torn Achilles' tendon the season before, Marino went 23-of-42 for 473 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
As for 2011, well, I've been thinking a lot about this Dolphins vs. Texans game.
I started thinking about it after the New England game. Actually, no, wait—that's wrong. I started thinking about it as Brady released that 99.5-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker.
At first, my thought was that it would be one of those odd games that goes down to the wire that Miami winds up pulling out at the end. Then I remembered that those games don't seem to go Miami's way anymore (and haven't since, I would say, 2005), so I switched to Houston.
Maybe that was because of the way the defense played compared to how Houston dominated the Colts.
So I really don't know which way to go based off my mind. It's currently leaning Houston, but only slightly.
But I'll tell you this: Ever since training camp, I had a feeling that it would be a close Miami victory in a shootout.
I thought Henne would have a great day, and I thought Bush would gain about 150 all-purpose yards.
I really think that despite their great pass rush, Houston's secondary is on par with New England's. That's not a compliment, by the way, the Patriots' secondary isn't good even though they have playmakers that occasionally make plays.
Sometimes you have to go with your initial gut instinct, which I will.
Miami 38, Houston 35.
Thomas Galicia is a Miami Dolphins Featured Columnist. Follow him on twitter @thomasgalicia. For more of his opinions, visit www.thomasgalicia.com, nominated by CBSMiami.com for "Miami's Most Valuable Blogger" in the sports division.