The Miami Dolphins could have quarterback Ryan Tannehill back for their playoff run, according Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.
Miami (10-5) is in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 as a result of the Kansas City Chiefs 33-10 victory over the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day. The Dolphins defeated the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in overtime on Saturday for their third straight win and ninth in their last 10. The Phins, the No. 6 seed in the AFC, will travel to Pittsburgh or Tennessee for a wild card game on January 7 or 8.
Tannehill has not played in the Dolphins last two games as he suffered an ACL and MCL sprain in his left knee during the third quarter of their victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 11. Beasley said that Tannehill had his cast removed on Friday, and is no longer using crutches though he still has a limp.
Tannehill was playing his best football of the season prior to the injury, in what is perhaps his best year of his five-year career. In his last eight games, the 28-year-old completed 69.09 percent of his passes for 1,723 yards along with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has added 106 yards on the ground. Overall, Tannehill is completing a career-high 67.1 percent of his passes for 213.8 yards a game with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions along with a career-best 93.5 rating.
Backup quarterback Matt Moore has played well in Tannehill’s absence and will likely start against the New England Patriots on New Year’s Day. It is conceivable that the Phins could go with veteran T.J. Yates under center since the game is virtually meaningless, and there is also still a chance that Tannehill will not be ready for the start of the playoffs.
Moore completed 16-of-30 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. The nine-year veteran has completed 58.5 percent of his passes this season (31-of-53) for 172.0 yards a game with six touchdown and two interceptions. He has thrown for over 230 yards in each of his two starts.
No matter who is at quarterback, the Dolphins’ postseason success is dependent on how well running back Jay Ajayi runs the ball and how their defense plays.
Ajayi recorded his third, 200-yard game against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday as he rushed for 206 yards on 32 carries and one touchdown. The second-year back tied Tikki Barber (2005) and O.J. Simpson (1973) for second most 200 yard games in a season, per ESPN. Ajayi is a big bruising back who is very tough to bring down. He ranks fourth in the league with 86.6 yards a game, and is 10th in the league with eight touchdowns.
Miami ranks 22nd in the NFL in total yards with 336.3, though the Phins are ninth in rushing with 116.6 yards a game. The Dolphins are 16th in scoring with 23.3 points a game. They have scored 27 or more points in the four games that Ajayi has ran for at least 100 yards.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is the Phins most consistent pass catcher with 85 receptions. Fellow wide outs DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills are also dangerous weapons.
Defensively, the Dolphins are giving up the third fewest yards in the league with 381.7 yards a game and rank 14th in scoring defense, giving up 23.0 points a game. The Phins are also sixth with 25 takeaways, 16 interceptions and nine fumbles, and 15th in sacks with 33. However, the Dolphins do not defend the run well as they giving up 141.8 yards a game — which ranks third most in the league.
Defensive end Cameron Wake has registered a-half sack or more in eight of nine games and has a team-high 11.5 for the season. Defensive end Alan Branch has 5.5 sacks and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has five sacks. Cornerback Tony Lippett leads the team with four interceptions, while linebacker Kiko Alonso, cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Isa Abdul-Quaddus have two picks a piece. Alonso leads the team with 110 tackles and is followed by Abdul-Quaddus, Lippet and Maxwell.
[Featured Image by Wilfredo Lee/AP Images]