The Miami Dolphins are on deck. This Dolphins team has found all the right buttons to push on their way to a five game winning stream, the team’s longest string of consecutive victories since the 2016 season, when Miami won six straight games on their way to a 10-6 season. That’s very much of the table for the Dolphins this season as well — and perhaps much more. With Miami’s well-rounded approach and opportunistic defense, what is to say Miami can’t make a healthy run at the AFC East in 2020?
“Why not us?”
The next step in that journey starts today, when the Dolphins take the field to square off against the Denver Broncos. Miami is trending in the right direction, which is more than we can say about the 3-6 Broncos. But the Dolphins still need to execute. What should we expect?
Here are five bold predictions:
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) drops back to pass against the Los Angeles Chargers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, November 15, 2020. (ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST)
Tua Tagovailoa’s first career interception
The Broncos do have some notable ballhawks on the field — starting with safety Justin Simmons, who is one of the best safeties in all of football. Tagovailoa got lucky in Week 10 with two near-misses on targets to Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker; and inevitably luck will run out for the rookie passer. Tagovailoa missed a couple of other opportunities by being slightly late to decide to pull the trigger, such as on a deep sneak/over route to Gesicki against the Chargers.
We expect Tagovailoa will be more confident this week — but the end result will be at least one throw he’ll wish he could get back.
Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jesse Davis (77), center Ted Karras (67), offensive guard Ereck Flowers and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (91) lead players onto the field after the playing of the National Anthem at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, October 4, 2020. [ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post]
A season-high in team rushing yards
UDFA running back Salvon Ahmed seems to have brought some new life to the running game. Add in the return of RB Matt Breida and Miami seems well positioned to get after the Broncos up front, especially when you consider Denver has conceded over 200+ rushing yards in two of their last three ball games. Miami’s current team-high in rushing yards for the season is 138, which they allocated in Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They came close at one point last week, too — finishing with 111 yards on the ground after losing 9 rushing yards on their final 6 plays from scrimmage (including three kneel downs) against the Chargers.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (91) celebrates after tipping a pass attempted by Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) on fourth down and one at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, November 15, 2020. Dolphins took over on downs. (ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST)
The Dolphins get Drew Lock yanked from the game
Drew Lock is reportedly set to play today against Miami after working through a ribs/abdomen injury suffered in Week 10 against the Raiders. But if Lock’s play looks anything like it did last week against Las Vegas, the Broncos may have a quick hook to protect their young quarterback from the storm Miami is bringing to Denver today on defense. Miami’s squad is playing at a high level and their ability to capitalize on opposing team mistakes is a variable to this game that has the potential to swing things dramatically into Miami’s favor.
If Lock struggles under the pressure, the Broncos may make the call to the bullpen. We think they will after a few Denver turnovers in the 1st-half.
Dec 29, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) scrambles with the ball in the second half against the Oakland Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Byron Jones gets his first interception as a Dolphin
We refuse to give up hope here. Jones has had near-misses in each of the last two games — he had an interception plucked out of his grasp in the end zone against Arizona for what would eventually be called a touchdown and in Week 10 against the Chargers, QB Justin Herbert had a misfire into the flats that, had it been on target, would have hit Jones squarely between the eyes.
It is coming. Xavien Howard can’t have all the fun, right? This is the week.
Oct 18, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) celebrates with center Ted Karras (67) after his first NFL pass for a completion during the second half against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
A 26-13 Dolphins victory
Last week, we predicted a 27-23 Dolphins victory. The final score was 4 points off the mark as Miami closed out the Chargers 29-21. We’re leaving ourself enough wiggle room this week to ensure that even if we’re off, it will still reflect what we ultimately expect: a multi-score win for the Dolphins. The Broncos simply don’t have the horses (pun intended) to keep pace with a well-rounded and disciplined Dolphins team; and as a result Miami takes advantage of the sloppy mistakes that Denver has been prone to all year.