The Miami Dolphins Face the Kansas City Chiefs

The Miami Dolphins face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in practically a must win game for the Chiefs. Only 12 teams in NFL history have survived an 0-3 start to make the playoffs. The Dolphins are favored by 5 points in this game and that could spell trouble as Miami is 6-23 the last 10 years when favored by more than 3 points at home. The spread is sure to plummet once that stat hits the wires…

Miami is difficult for handicappers to predict because of the inconsistent play at QB. The startling stat sticking out in Bill Lazor’s throbbing head is Ryan Tannehill’s 0.6 passer rating on throws of 20 yards or more. The Miami QB is 1 of 7 for 22 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT. Last week the Bills disregarded Tannehill throwing deep and brought the house on every down. Surely watching the film has Eric Berry licking his chops.

The Chiefs find themselves 0-2 mainly due to stud RB Jamal Charles nursing a high ankle sprain. Explosive draft pick De'Anthony Thomas has yet to play a regular season down with a pulled hamstring. Both of these two players are expected back, relieving some of the burden on Alex Smith who has been ineffective in the passing game after signing a franchise contract.

De'Anthony Thomas presents a serious challenge for a Miami special teams unit that played about as poorly as possible against the Bills. Thomas returned a punt for a TD in the pre-season and is looking forward to duplicating the feat against Miami. The Dolphins will need to plug the leaks quick before facing Thomas.

The story will look much the same this week for the Dolphins, though fortunately the KC front 4 is not as formidable as Buffalo. The Miami OL held up fairly well against a relentless Buffalo defense. They will be presented with a similar 8-man front sprinkled with a few new wrinkles as KC aims to force Tannehill to win the game. Buffalo showed Miami’s vulnerability in the deep passing game and teams will use the same formula until it's fixed, one way or the other...

The hope for a big Miami offensive showing lies once again on completing a few early long passes. If Tannehill can break the drought and hit his receivers for big plays, the defense will back off and the running game will come alive. If the same ineptitude prevails, the game could very well turn into a low scoring nail-biter with the outcome decided by a single play somewhere along the way.

The Dolphins should return a couple linebackers this week bringing depth to a lackluster group. Jason Trusnik's massive snap total may have played a part in the total special teams collapse at Buffalo. The usually sure handed Jarvis Landry made some rookie mistakes fielding punts, but there's no returning to Marcus Thigpen who was wisely snapped up by Bill Belichick. This unit needs Trusnik at full strength and completely in on special teams.

Cameron Wake has probably heard enough about being handled by a 7th round rookie in Buffalo. The Miami front 4 is one of the better units in the league when they decide to show up for a game. It’s hard to fathom how the Bills took both Wake and Vernon out of the game last week, and equally hard to fathom that both will underperform for a second straight week.

The thought here is, this will be a closely contested defensive struggle. The team making a big play in any facet should come out on top at the end. Should Tannehill get untracked in the deep passing game KC could be in for trouble, but he has not shown that ability in 34 starts and it is doubtful to suddenly blossom. The absence of Knowshon Moreno was clearly evident in Buffalo and he won’t be playing any time soon.

Everything points to Miami needing a flawless defensive and special teams performance to come out on top. While the NFL has shown a dependency on great QB play to consistently win, the Dolphins have no such luxury and must depend on a total team effort.

Bill Lazor has his hands full on an offense that seems a mismatch of talents. The big play speed receivers do not particularly block well in the run game and the QB cannot complete long passes. If things go sour early the boo-birds will surface in Miami, Tannehill's honeymoon is over. The calls for Matt Moore have not surfaced yet, but the call is waiting on the back of tongues all over Dolphin land.

Tannehill has lit-it-up approximately one out of every three games and there’s a high probability this could be his week. The Miami faithful have been blowing up the blogs in a virtual showdown between believers and non-believers. Tannehill needs this game badly to right ship and regain the confidence of teammates, coaching staff and Miami fandom as a whole.

Miami wins a close contest. The offense pulls in and works on its strengths in the running game. Expect to see less Wallace and more of Jarvis Landry and plenty of tight ends. When a QB is struggling with a facet of his game, it makes little sense to force him into those situations. Joe Philbin showed this train of thought when deciding to sit on the running game at the end of the first half last week.

Lamar Miller may take a backseat to Damien Williams in this game and Daniel Thomas is looking for redemption. Miami will pull back and go with a power running game and sure up special teams in an effort to win a close contest. Tannehill will get a couple of shots, but the Dolphin coaching staff is well aware of the .06 passer rating on deep throws and the demoralizing affect those missed opportunities have on a football team.

Miami wins a close one with a defensive touchdown!