Week 16 of the 2020 NFL Season. 2020 has been a really trying year for all of us, some more than others of course. Some have lost friends or relatives to COVID-19, others struggle to keep their businesses and/or households intact due to COVID-19 restrictions. I feel for all of you. One thing we can all say has been a blessing is the rise of our favorite football team, the Miami Dolphins. We won’t win the division this year, the Buffalo Bills have already clinched that. At 9-5, we are right in the thick of it though and currently hold the #7 seed in the AFC. Our team’s development has been a shining light, and that light still burns bright as we head to Sin City, Las Vegas Nevada to play the 7-7 Raiders. The Raiders have built a beautiful new stadium there and nothing would be better for us to take one more big step towards our first playoff berth since 2016, when Ryan Tannehill was our QB and then tore up his knee in Game 13, and Matt Moore faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs and ended our season on a sour note. Not coincidentally, that was the last year the Miami Dolphins had a 1,000 yard rusher, Jay Ajayi.
This is an exciting time for our fanbase our franchise. It’s so different than 2016. In 2016 I never felt like we really belonged with the other playoff teams, and no offense to Ryan Tannehill, but even if we had his services against the Steelers, I’m not sure we would have fared much better. We weren’t nearly as well rounded as we are now. It’s amazing the transformation we’ve gone through in such a short time. I truly feel like no team wants to face the 2020 Miami Dolphins while I think in 2016, they were licking their lips to face us in the playoffs. We have made major strides on the defensive side and now are the #1 defense in points allowed at 254 which is a stingy 18.4 PPG. In 2020 in the NFL, that’s really saying something. I was listening to WQAM and I wish I could find the record to confirm what I think I heard yesterday. I believe they said since Brian Flores took over as Head Coach, the Miami Dolphins are 20-6 against the spread. That’s unbelievable.
So here we sit at 9-5, heading to Las Vegas to play the Raiders in their beautiful new home. It’s looking very much like Derek Carr will be starting, but with our defense, I’m sure there must be a side bet as to whether he finishes. Carr has been practicing and is on track to play, but Marcus Mariota will no doubt be ready to play. A QB with an injured groin for the Dolphins defense is like throwing chum in the water to a sea of sharks. The Dolphins have so many players questionable for this game it’s absurd, but the big ones to me are the availability of DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki. We already know that Myles Gaskin will likely settle in as the lead RB, but will probably share the workload at least this week, more evenly with Salvon Ahmed who eclipsed 1oo yards last week against the Patriots, and to a lesser extent Matt Breida who is now healthy as well. I won’t be surprised if we have a running game against the Raiders but it will depend on how their defense fares. We might need more Tua than I expect. The other players I’ll be watching for is whether LG Ereck Flowers is able to suit up, right now it looks like rookie Solomon Kindley will miss this one. If Flowers can’t go, this will once again thrust Michael Deiter to start at LG with veteran Jesse Davis filling in at RG. Both players played well last week against the Patriots. Also, it’s unclear as to whether WR/PR/KR Jakeem Grant will be able to play. While he’s been uneven as a receiver, he’s provided plenty of pop in the return game. Out of the 12 players the Dolphins have listed on the injury report, only 2 had full participation, CB Xavien Howard and S Kavon Frazier. G Solomon Kindley and S Clayton Fejedelem both did not participate.
While the Raiders at 7-7 have a very uncertain path to playoffs, unlikely even, the Dolphins with wins on Saturday against the Raiders and then against Buffalo will guarantee them a spot in the playoffs. If that were to occur, it’s likely the Dolphins would have to play the AFC East champion Bills back to back weeks. Let’s take this one week at a time though, shall we? Let’s take care of business this week first and then we can thirst for a chance to make the playoffs a real possibility. I hope all of you here at FMU have a wonderful holiday season and a very Merry Christmas to all of you and our readers who don’t post here (If there are any)