Winning on the road in December is tough. Add into the mix the weather conditions, and it may be a huge task for the Dolphins to beat the Steelers. But one thing everyone should learn this season is not to doubt these Dolphins. Just when you think they are down and out, they show up to town and pull a performance out of the bag that wins them the game. It's a credit to coach Joe Philbin and his staff that they have managed to keep this team together after all that has happened this season. But will there be a happy ending for Miami this season?
The good news for the Dolphins is that the team is facing a Steeler's offense led by ex-Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. Haley moves his offense with short runs and passes that don't really showcase Ben Roethlisberger's talent. If Roethlisberger isn't let off his leash by Haley, this is very good news for Miami's defense.
However things don't look quite so rosy for the Dolphins' offense heading into this game. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, if not in the history of the NFL. Watch out for Pittsburgh's renowned "Zone Blitz", enabling defenders to get to the quarterback while maintaining coverage.
Defeating Pittsburgh's defense will be a tough test for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But that's not suggesting it can't be done. Tannehill has thrown for over 300 years in the last two games, including arguably his best performance last week by throwing a season-best 331 yards against the New York Jets.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are not the feared team of the past having experienced an indifferent season. But don't think this will make life easier for the Dolphins. The Steelers are still in the picture for that last wildcard spot, and will fight tooth and nail for it. In this match-up, the key has to be stopping the Steelers' offense. That may open the door for Olivier Vernon, who is becoming a major player for Miami this season. In only his second year, the former third round pick has amassed an impressive 10.5 sacks this season. If Vernon is on fire come Sunday, and Miami's defense stop Roethlisberger, the Dolphins have a chance to edge out this game.
Miami Dolphins 20 - 17 Pittsburgh Steelers