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The AFC Wild Card Game on Sunday a afternoon feature the Miami Dolphins vs. the Pittsburg Steelers. This game can either be the “Revenge Game” or the “It wasn’t a fluke game.” The Dolphins come into this game bruised up with their starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill out and backup veteran Matt Moore will start in his place. Yet still, the offense still has been productive especially with running back Jay Ajayi producing the bulk of the offense while the defense has picked up the slack. The Steelers want to prove that when your quarterback is out, things can go sour. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is back although he hasn’t played well. With running back Le’Veon Bell playing at an all-time level, and wide receiver Antonio Brown coming back to form, the question will be if the defense can raise the bar and match the offense’s play.
Keys To The Game
The Dolphins must establish Ajayi. In a week 6 victory over Pittsburgh, he rushed for 204 yards, granted they still had starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill playing. By establishing the running game, it will allow Moore the luxury to manage the game. He just needs to protect the ball, no turnovers. The defense must simply avoid giving up big plays. They did a great job containing wide receiver Antonio Brown and the pass rush was effective getting after the quarterback in the last time they faced each other.
The Steelers must contain Ajayi. He gashed them the last time they played each and every way. The defense must rattle the Dolphins quarterback and cause some turnovers. On offense, they must get Bell involved early and often. Then get Roethlisberger and the passing game going and hit on some big plays downfield. Brown will certainly be the focus of the Dolphin secondary, so another receiver will need to step up.
The X-factor for the Dolphins is cornerback Byron Maxwell. Maxwell big-game and playoff experience will come in handy helping the secondary make adjustments. If he can set the tone by keeping the Steelers receivers on notice with his hitting, then it will boost the defense’s confidence. He will also make sure his teammates are in the right position..
The X-factor for the Steelers is the entire defensive line. Ricardo Matthews, Javon Hargrave and Stephen Tuitt can control the line of scrimmage in two ways. First they need to apply pressure on the quarterback and disrupt the passing game. Secondly, they need to get linebackers involved by creating lanes which will allow them to make plays, whether helping in the running game or blitzing the quarterback.
Prediction: The Dolphins have played really good football even without Tannehill out, but let’s be real, with the playoff experience of Roethlisberger and the fact that the defensive line should step up, Steelers win.