Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs: Who has the edge in first-round matchup?

Here’s a look at how the Miami Dolphins (11-6) and Kansas City Chiefs (11-6) match up in six key areas ahead of Saturday night’s wild-card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium (8 p.m., NBC6 and Peacock):

When the Dolphins run: In a cold environment with the possibility of swirling winds, albeit without snow in the forecast, the ground game could take on a greater importance than usual. And Raheem Mostert is expected back, giving the Dolphins their franchise record-holder in single-season rushing and total touchdowns, plus a 1,000-yard rusher. De’Von Achane and Jeff Wilson Jr. can still play key roles after they were effective in the first half of the regular-season finale against Buffalo.

The question is if coach Mike McDaniel won’t abandon the run if he sees a heavy box like the Bills played in the second half as there were only three rushing attempts for the Dolphins after halftime. The Dolphins could see a rare back-to-back weeks of starting the same offensive line with starting right guard Robert Hunt in there again.

While the Chiefs defense is No. 2 overall, it is vulnerable against the run, No. 18 in the league in rushing defense. All-Pro Chris Jones is one of the best defensive tackles in the game, and middle linebacker Nick Bolton is back after he missed the previous meeting between these teams in Frankfurt, Germany. Edge: Dolphins

When the Chiefs run: Kansas City running back Isiah Pacheco finished just shy of 1,000 rushing yards on the season with 935. The Chiefs run game is more about complementing quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the pass game, but Pacheco, in his second year, has provided a solid elusive rusher for this offense. Center Creed Humphrey and left guard Joe Thuney are a pair of Pro Bowlers on the Kansas City offensive line.

If the Chiefs, with the No. 19 rushing offense while 25th in rushing attempts, go to the ground more given the conditions, that could mean more snaps for nose tackle Raekwon Davis with Christian Wilkins playing defensive end with the Dolphins depleted at outside linebacker on the edge. David Long Jr. will have to provide his usual strong run-stopping presence as Jerome Baker is done for the season and Duke Riley will take his place. Miami finished the regular season No. 7 in run defense.

The Dolphins were good last week against the traditional ground game of the Bills but were susceptible to the scrambling of quarterback Josh Allen. Mahomes is mobile in his own right, so Miami will have to be aware of his running ability. Edge: Dolphins

When the Dolphins pass: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led the NFL in passing (4,624 yards) this season, but he hasn’t had his best games against tough competition nor on the road in the late stretch of the season. He also has had a rougher go at it without Jaylen Waddle the past two games. It showed in the second half against the Bills when, with a lot of eight-in-the-box looks not taken advantage of, and drives not being sustained, allowing Buffalo to dominate time of possession.

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The good news is Waddle should be back from his ankle injury, but fellow wideout Tyreek Hill, who will be returning to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time as an opponent, also has been slowed by his injured ankle and now has a quadriceps ailment to worry about. He was limping late in the last game and not on the field when Tagovailoa threw the final interception, targeting Chase Claypool. The Chiefs have the No. 4 pass defense, but top cornerback L’Jarius Sneed has a calf concern as he will be tasked with coverage on either Hill or Waddle.

Kansas City finished second in the NFL with 57 sacks, and it’s a lot of different players that come at opposing offenses in waves. Jones from the interior and George Karlaftis on the edge each had double-digit sacks on the season. It will take a collective effort to protect Tagovailoa, not just from tackles Terron Armstead and Austin Jackson but also guards Hunt and Robert Jones and center Liam Eichenberg. The line needs to be disciplined in avoiding penalties in what will surely be a raucous atmosphere. Edge: Chiefs

When the Chiefs pass: It’s Mahomes, but it’s not the Mahomes-led passing you’re used to fearing. His 27 touchdowns were only one more than his career low since taking over as Chiefs’ starting quarterback six years ago of 26 and 4,183 passing yards just edged his previous low of 4,031. Those two lows, though, were set in 2019, when he only played 14 games. Mahomes also had a career high in interceptions (14).

But it’s not all on him. The lack of a receiving corps since Hill’s departure, although it was still enough for a Super Bowl last season, is finally catching up to the Chiefs. Tight end Travis Kelce, who was below 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2015, can expect to see some committed bracket coverage, and the Dolphins did a good job on him the first time these team’s played, holding him to a season-low 14 receiving yards. Rookie second-round pick Rashee Rice came on for a strong second half of the season and is the top outside threat. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, probably without cornerback Xavien Howard again, can either utilize him on Rice or as part of the coverage against Kelce.

The Miami pass rush is significantly depleted now that Andrew Van Ginkel has joined Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips as out for season. The Dolphins signed veterans Justin Houston and Bruce Irvin this week to help with the attrition at edge defender. It’d be a lot to ask either to start within days of joining the team, so either one of them can rotate in with Emmanuel Ogbah and Melvin Ingram likely starting — Ingram, by the way, only joined the Dolphins a month ago. Edge: Chiefs

Special teams: While kicker Jason Sanders and punter Jake Bailey have been solid, the Dolphins have not covered kicks and punts well of late. They gave up a 96-yard punt return touchdown to start the fourth quarter against Buffalo, and a big kick return to start the second half in Baltimore helped the Ravens pile on in the previous week.

The Chiefs have a sound special teams unit. Kicker Harrison Butker is 33 of 35 on field goals without missing an extra point, and punter Tommy Townsend was an All-Pro last season. Edge: Chiefs

Intangibles: It’s not like Kansas City has been its usual impressive self heading into the postseason, but it’s still Arrowhead in the postseason, and this game has the potential to be the coldest in Dolphins franchise history if kickoff temperature is single digits, as forecasts suggest. The Dolphins are coming off two consecutive losses, but they’ve also faced tough competition leading into the postseason, which could have them better prepared for the playoff intensity. Nonetheless, with the other factors … Edge: Chiefs

PREDICTION: Chiefs 24, Dolphins 21