After a close call against the Oakland Raiders last week, the Colts again play host to a familiar foe in the Miami Dolphins. This is the second year in a row the Dolphins have faced the Colts pitting 2012 draft classmates Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill against one another. Both teams come in at 1-0 and both also look to have post season aspirations due to having a big splash in free agency in the off season.
The Colts barely escaped last week’s clash against Oakland intact and face a more formidable opponent that is looking for their first playoff birth since 2008. The Colts come into this game injured on the offensive side of the ball. Vick Ballard tore his ACL in practice early Friday and is out for the season. Donald Brown looks to take over the backup role and preseason standout Kerwynn Williams will take over the 3rd string role. Colts tight end Dwayne Allen has been listed as doubtful for the game due to a hip injury.
For the Dolphins, they come off a strong defensive performance against the Browns on the road. They amassed six sacks on Brandon Weeden as well as picked him off three times. The pass rush of Dannell Ellerbe-Dion Jordan-Cameron Wake had their way with the Browns offensive line and did a good job holding the Browns running game to 47 yards on 13 carries. The Dolphins enter Sunday thin at the cornerback position with Will Davis out for the game and Dmitri Patterson questionable with a groin injury.
Andrew Luck and Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be forever tied together thanks to them both being in the 2012 Draft Class. One can argue that this could very well be the next big QB rivalry.
Why the Colts will win
- Andrew Luck set the rookie passing record in a game with 433 yards against these same Dolphins last year. Although the Dolphins look different this year with the additions of Ellerbe and Pro Bowler Brent Grimes, Andrew Luck has better weapons at wide receiver than last year and should have himself a great, turnover free game.
- The Colts defense will be much improved against the Dolphins this time around. The Colts allowed Tannehill to throw for 290 yards on 22 of 38 passing with a touchdown last year. However, the starting corners for the Colts that year were Jerraud Powers and Cassius Vaughn. This time around the secondary is much improved thanks to off-season acqusition Greg Toler. Vontae Davis was hurt last year and couldn’t face is former team. He is healthy this time around and I’m sure he circled this game on his calender.
- The Colts did a good job protecting Andrew Luck in last years game, limiting Miami to only one sack. But with the Dolphins defense more bolstered, it’ll take a stronger effort to keep Luck on his feet.
- The Dolphins allowed 4 sacks to Tannehill last week against the Browns and had Tannehill getting out of the pocket numerous times due to the pocket collapsing. The loss of former 1st overall pick Jake Long has already shown the wear on the Dolphins offensive line. If the Colts can get to the quarterback on a consistent basis and force Tannehill to make bad throws, it will be a successful day at Lucas Oil Stadium.
- The Dolphins ran for 20 yards on 23 carries last week. They couldn’t find any running room against the Browns and part of this also goes to the offensive line getting pushed around by the Browns front four. The Colts held the Raiders running backs to 59 yards on 20 carries. Although they allowed 112 yards to quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Tannehill doesn’t have the legs like Pryor does so a repeat rushing performance from a quarterback against the Colts defense this week is highly unlikely.
Why the Colts will lose
- There is no pass rush whatsoever and Ryan Tannehill takes his time and picks off the Colts secondary to his favorite target Brian Hartline and newly acquired wide receiver Mike Wallace. The Dolphins would eat up most of the clock just to keep the Colts offense off the field, the same way the Raiders did it last week.
- The Colts offensive line has no answer for Cameron Wake and the Dolphins pass rush. Luck will be forced out of the pocket and could make a bad throw or two that’ll cause a turnover or two.
- If the coaching is again conservative with the lead, the game could very well wind up like the Week 3 clash against Jacksonville last year. The Colts have the capability to put up points and there is no doubt about it. But what if the Colts took a 21-6 lead into halftime and then gave up 21 unanswered to the Dolphins at it becomes 24-21 Miami with under two minutes? Sure, Luck’s heroics could very well win the game for the Colts again, but why resort to that? If you have a chance to put away the game early, do it. It doesn’t have to be a 45-7 blowout, just a win comfortable enough that doesn’t leave fans pulling their hair out.
This game will be much tougher than the Raiders game, no doubt about it. The game may come down to which offensive line holds up better. I love the Colts secondary and their potential to cover the Dolphins receivers as well because they don’t have to deal with a mobile quarterback this time around. That goes hand-in-hand with the front seven being able to get to the quarterback. No more Robert Mathis running from one sideline to the other trying to tackle Terrelle Pryor. I think the lack of the running game for Miami will do them in as well as they will miss Reggie Bush dual-threat talents. Above all else, I think Andrew Luck will have his way with the Dolphins secondary. Although it won’t be another 433 yard performance, it’ll be enough to get them a win.
Colts 27 Dolphins 17