Can the Miami Dolphins keep their good mojo going?
Miami (7-5) takes its six-game winning streak into M&T Bank Stadium to face the Baltimore Ravens (6-5) on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (ET) with the game to be televised by CBS.
Miami is coming off a hard-fought 31-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers (1-10). The Dolphins gave up 296 yards, along with three touchdowns via the air to the 30th ranked passing team in the league. The Niners accumulated 425 total yards of offense, and the 24 points were the most they have put up on the scoreboard since Week 3.
Baltimore had its most productive first half of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals as they took a 16-3 halftime lead on Sunday. However, their offense bogged down in the second half and they had to hold on for a 19-14 victory.
With the win over Cincinnati, the Ravens remained ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) in the battle for the AFC North division title due to the fact that they own several tie breakers. In the meantime, the Dolphins have the edge for the sixth and final playoff spot because they have a better conference win percentage than the Denver Broncos.
The Dolphins and Ravens are meeting for the fourth straight year, although it marks the first time the teams will be playing in Baltimore since November 7, 2010. The Ravens have won five of the last six meetings to take a 7-6 lead in the all-time series.
The Ravens will accumulate 100 yards on the ground
The Ravens are one of the worst running teams, statistically speaking, as they average 87.8 yards a game — which ranks 28th in the league. However, they have been able to run the ball decently in the last three weeks. The Ravens totaled 119 rushing yards against the Cleveland Browns in Week 10, and 92 yards last week versus the Bengals, though that number was skewed by punter Sam Koch’s 21-yard loss on the last play of the game. The Browns rank 31st against the run and the Bengals rank 28th.
Terrence West hasn’t received a ton of work over the last three games, though he has run relatively well. West has had at least one carry for 15-plus yards in each one of those contests, totaling 155 yards and one touchdown on 42 attempts for 3.69 yards per carry. For the season, he is averaging 54.4 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry.
Rookie Kenneth Dixon has been a valuable contributor the past few games, though as more of a receiver out of the backfield than a runner. He did total a season-high 49 yards on 13 carries against the Bengals, while also catching four passes for an additional 31 yards — giving him two 80-yard total offense performances over the last three weeks. Dixon is averaging 5.08 yards per carry over the last three weeks, as he has accumulated 127 yards on 25 attempts.
The Dolphins are ranked 30th against the run, permitting 132.2 yards a game as they have allowed 13 runs of 20 or more yards — which is the second most in the league. The Phins are giving up 4.6 yards per carry.
San Francisco became the latest team to roll-up 100 yards on the ground against Miami, compiling 193 yards on 25 carries. Eight of the Dolphins 11 opponents have surpassed the 100-yard mark this season.
The Ravens and the Dolphins will turn the ball over at least one time apiece
Both the Ravens and Dolphins rank in the middle of the pack of the league in turnovers, with 15 and 13, respectively.
The biggest problem for the teams has been interceptions. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been picked off on 10 of 450 pass attempts for an interception rate of 2.2 percent. He has thrown an interception in four of his past five games, including one against the Bengals. Flacco also has four multi-interception games.
Flacco has had a lot of success against the Dolphins. He is 4-0 all-time against the Dolphins, completing 70.4 percent of his passes for over 250 yards, along with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Baltimore’s defense has forced 19 turnovers, 11 interceptions, and eight fumbles. The Ravens linebackers are among the most active in the league. Cornerback Jimmy Smith, along with safety Eric Weddle are some of the best at their positions. Smith has missed the past two games with a back injury, although Jamison Hensley of ESPN reports that he is close to returning to action.
Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley leads the team with three interceptions, while rookie corner Tavon Young and Weddle have two picks each. Linebacker Zachary Orr has one interception and two fumble recoveries. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs leads the team with three sacks.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown eight interceptions, although he has been picked off just once in the past six weeks. Tannehill has a 2.4 percent interception rate. In fact, only two of the Phins turnovers have come after Week 6, per ESPN.
Tannehill is 1-2 against Baltimore, completing 57.6 of his passes for 210 yards per game, along with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Miami has one of the worst pass defenses in the league. The Dolphins are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 60.9 percent of their passes for 229.7 yards a game. While the Phins have given up 17 touchdown passes, they also have picked off 10 passes. Cornerback Byron Maxwell, who came over from Philadelphia in the offseason, has been terrific — registering 13 passes defended, along with one interception. Tony Lippett, who has started in place of rookie corner Xavien Howard the past eight games, has recorded six passes defended and two picks. Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus and linebacker Kiko Alonzo also has two interceptions.
Miami has 15 takeaways overall. The Dolphins have forced 11 fumbles, recovering just five of those.
Miami and Baltimore will record two or more sacks apiece
Miami also has one of the top pass rushing defensive lines in all of football. Defensive end Cameron Wake has registered at least a-half sack in six straight games, and has a team-high 8.5. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has five sacks, and defensive end Andre Branch has racked up 4.5. The Dolphins are 13th in the league with 25 sacks overall. They have recorded 15 sacks in their last six games.
Offensively, the Phins have given up 26 sacks. They were without left guard Laremy Tunsil, left tackle Branden Albert, and center Mike Pouncey against the 49ers.
Baltimore has recorded 26 sacks this season. The Ravens don’t have the defensive line that the Dolphins, so they get their sacks as a result of blitzing and confusing the offensive line with different looks. Suggs, an excellent edge rusher, had two sacks versus the Bengals to push his team-high total to eight. Defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan is second on the team with five sacks, and linebacker Matt Judon is third with three. Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who posted his first sack of the season on Sunday, makes the pass rush scarier — however, it remains to be seen if he can remain healthy.
The Ravens’ offensive line has been a weak spot all season long, they have given up 23 sacks and allowed 66 quarterback hits.
Justin Tucker will lead Ravens to a close, low-scoring victory
The kicking game has been an issue for several teams. The Ravens are not one of those teams.
Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker has been automatic this season. Tucker accounts for eight of the 19.8 points the Ravens scores a game. He is a perfect 27-for-27 on field goal attempts — including 7-of-7 from 50 yards or more, and is 15-of-15 on extra points. Tucker contributed 13 points versus the Bengals, marking the fifth game he has reached double-figures this year.
Baltimore has 19 touchdowns all year, with just 17 being scored by the offense.
Miami ranks 17th in the NFL with 22.6 points a game, though they have scored 27 or more points five times during the winning streak. The Dolphins have been held to less than 15 points three times.
Baltimore is favored by three points, per Oddsshark.
[Featured Image by Wilfredo Lee/AP Images]