The NFL Playoffs are within reach for the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers as the two AFC franchises face off in Week 14 today. With a win, either team could find themselves in the driver's seat for the post season. With a loss, it could be all but mathematically over. Who has the advantage? We take a look.
|Dolphins passing offense vs. Pittsburgh pass defense
Dolphins pass offense: 17
The Steelers do not have a pass rush this season, which could keep Ryan Tannehill upright and able to deliver the ball. The key for the Miami passing game may be Mike Wallace this week, who is going to want to have a big day against his former team, and Tannehill is going to have to get him involved in the game early. However, it may end up being Brian Hartline who has the bigger day, as the Steelers look to shut down Wallace in this grudge match, and have said they are going to be looking to limit Charles Clay as well. If the Dolphins can manage the weather , they probably have a slight advantage here.
|Dolphins rushing offense vs. Pittsburgh run defense
Dolphins rush offense: 25
Miami committed to the run against the top rushing defense last week against the New York Jets. They did not end the game with a high yards per carry average, but they did top 100-yards rushing and they were able to do enough to keep from becoming one-dimensional. The Dolphins should be able to do exactly that against the 18th ranked Steelers run defense, but until they prove they (a) can run the ball effectively and (b) they are not going to abandon the run, they don't get an advantage.
|Steelers passing offense vs. Miami pass defense
Steelers pass offense: 11
The Steelers passing attack is formidable, and Ben Roethlisberger is getting hot at the right time of year. The Dolphins pass defense is stepping up and has climbed into the top 10 for the first time this year. Miami has only allowed one touchdown to a wide receiver this season, and has an interception in 11 of 12 games this year. Miami should be able to get after Roethlisberger as the Steelers' offensive line is almost as banged up as the Dolphins'. In the end, Big Ben gives Pittsburgh the advantage, but if Brent Grimes (and maybe Dimitri Patterson) get hot, Miami could reclaim this.
|Steelers rushing offense vs. Miami run defense
Steelers rush offense: 31
The Steelers do not run the ball well. The Dolphins do not stop the run well. Simply put, neither team has an advantage here, so it's even.
|Dolphins special teams vs. Pittsburgh special teams
Punting advantage is clearly to Miami, who have Brandon Fields once again the top punter in the league in yards per kick average. But, kicking goes to Pittsburgh as Shaun Suisham is sixth in the league in field goal percentage, while Miami rookie Caleb Sturgis is 27th. Miami's Marcus Thigpen is 15th in kickoff return average, while Pittsburgh's Felix Jones is 16th. Steelers punt returner Antonio Brown is fourth in the league with a 12.8 yards per return average, while Marcus Thigpen is 16th. Neither team is doing everything right on special teams, but neither is horrible either.
This game is ridiculously close, with both teams doing some things well, but struggling in other areas. Whichever team wins, the AFC Playoffs are still within reach. This game will probably come down to turnover differential, and I will give that advantage to the Dolphins, who have forced at least one takeaway every game this season. Final: Dolphins 17-14.
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