For the Dolphins, 7-9 sounds a bit better than 6-10 and to be fair, matches my preseason prediction, not that that’s at all important, really.
It would be nice if a few young Dolphins (DeVante Parker, Charles Harris, Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley) offered promise for a giant leap in 2018 with standout performances in the season finale against Buffalo at 4:25 p.m. today.
Is there any team that can’t wait for the calendar to flip from 2017 more than the Miami Dolphins?
Anyhow, here are three groups you might want to pay close attention to today, as Miami tries to bump Buffalo out of the playoff picture.
Starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who has not have the dominating season projected by most, if not all, has not practiced all week due to an ankle injury. Which leaves gigantic first-year player Zach Sterup to take his first career start. They stay Sterup, 6-foot-9, is hard to get around. We’ll see how Sterup holds up against pass-rush specialist Jerry Hughes. Dolphins left guard Ted Larsen vs. Bills stalwart Kyle Williams is an interesting interior matchup to watch. Can this offensive line open any holes for Kenyan Drake, who had 78 yards in the first meeting?
What’s new? Kiko Alonso, Lawrence Timmons, Chase Allen and Stephone Anthony have their work cut out for them in trying to contain running back LeSean McCoy, who was actually more damaging as a receiving threat in the first meeting. I suppose this is a last chance for Timmons to show Miami should bother keeping him around next season. What does he bring today? Bills tight ends Charles Clay and Nick O’Leary were targeted 11 times for 101 yards receiving last time, so, yeah, they noticed that weakness, too. Alonso, in particular, had a tough game against his former club on Sunday. Today is a chance for a bit of redemption.
Charles Harris had a real nice outing in Buffalo and has come on down the stretch. But one challenge for him today is to know when he needs to be alert for Tyrod Taylor rushing toward his edge. Harris’ instinct is to attack the quarterback, as it is for Cam Wake (who missed practice Friday due to illness) and so while he’d love to end the season with a third career sack today, he really needs to rush responsibly. Opposing offenses have had much more success running at Miami’s defensive ends and toward the sidelines than inside, which makes sense. Ndamukong Suh, Davon Godchaux and Jordan Phillips have done a very solid job this season and Buffalo’s decent offensive line is a challenge.