As I eluded to in my post game breakdown of the Dolphins @ Jets game, this is a game I am looking forward to since the winning team will almost certainly be headed for the playoffs. I will be watching this one on Sunday and I am excited to see two of the hottest rookie quarterbacks squaring off in a very intriguing contest. Ryan Tannehill is currently listed as questionable for this game due to a knee injury. If he is a late scratch, look for Matt Moore to start in his place. I am going to operate under the assumption that Tannehill will play for the benefit of my analysis. My prediction will not be affected by whoever plays in this one because it is not the offense that I am focusing on for Miami. I am going to tell you why their defense should be enough to carry them to a narrow victory in this contest.
The Colts strength is the passing game, even with rookie Andrew Luck. He spreads the ball around as well as any quarterback in the league and typically makes the right reads as he scans the field. His knowledge of the game is at a level that is unprecedented for someone at such a tender age of 23. He already has three game winning drives under his belt, and has helped the Colts win twice as many games this season as they did all of last year. However, Luck has only played one defense that ranks in the top-15 and did not fare so well in that game. It was against Chicago during Week 1 and Luck threw three picks and completed only 51% of his passes (although he was able to throw for 307 yards). Indianapolis has done a nice job getting off to quick starts this season. In the first half of their games, they have scored 71 points, versus 65 points in the second half. Indy has held a lead in every game this season and have been highly competitive in most of their contests. For this, I have reason to believe that this will be yet another game that is very close and may come down to the final possession.
Two of the Dolphins’ three losses came in overtime (against New York and Arizona). Outside of the Houston game during Week 1, this team has looked very good. They are riding a three game winning streak which could possibly be extended to six if a couple of plays would have gone their way in their two overtime games. In my eyes, Miami is a very underrated team. Joe Philbin has his guys playing at a level that nobody expected coming into this season. Their defense swarms to the ball and makes sure-handed tackles. When Tannehill is smart with the ball, the team’s win/loss record reflects it. The Dolphins have not lost in a game when he does not throw an interception. Likewise, when he does the team has not won a game. Three of his six came during the Week 1 debacle in Houston. Also, in their wins Tannehill is completing 64% of all of his passes, and only 55% in their losses. As you can see, there is a direct correlation from games won to quarterback efficiency down in Miami. Why do I bring this up? Well the Colts defense has allowed 13 passing TDs to only 2 INTs. They have surrendered a 103.4 QBR to opposing passers and teams have completed 64.6% of all of their passes against this defense. In terms of yards allowed, the Colts are not all that bad because they do rank 7th in the league; allowing only 213 yards/game. However, Tannehill has proven that it isn’t the amount of yards that wins you the game. In his three losses he has passed for 846 yards and 626 in his four wins. I understand that he only attempted five passes last week against the Jets because of an injury, but to be honest these stats that I have just given you would not have been affected very much if I did not included them. In this game I look for whoever the Dolphins decide to send out at QB to be smart with the ball and rely heavily on Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas to pick up a victory.
In my eyes, the Dolphins are the more complete team. They run the ball well on offense, they have a smart guy calling the signals, and they have a fast defense that is nearly impossible to run against and can cause fits in the passing game. The Colts don’t run the ball well as it is, and I think Luck makes one mistake in this game that will ultimately cost his team. As I said before, I will give the winning team two to one odds of making the playoffs. In this situation, I believe Miami picks up the win… barley. After all, Luck does play much better at home.
Miami 20, Indianapolis 19