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7 Things to Watch For in Miami Dolphins vs Minnesota Vikings

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Seven things to watch for Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings attempt to end Miami's hopes of achieving their first winning season since 2008.

QB Ryan Tannehill handing off to RB Lamar Miller
QB Ryan Tannehill handing off to RB Lamar Miller
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins (7-7) host the Minnesota Vikings (6-8) Sunday. This may not be a very enticing game nationally, but if you're from Miami this game has a lot to look at.

I'll explain further in this breakdown of what to watch for in Dolphins versus Vikings:

1. Young player development

The Dolphins aren't realistically in playoff hunt. Therefore, this coaching staff should play younger players such as Billy Turner, who has been inactive all year, and Matt Hazel, who was promoted from the practice squad Friday, to see what they have in these pieces.

Some players know how to take advantage of opportunities when put on the football field. Let's see if any of these younger guys who are average in practice become gamers when they're playing in front of thousands on Sunday.

2. Teddy Bridgewater's return to Miami

Bridgewater, a once University of Miami commit, snubbed the U due to the firing of then-coach Randy Shannon and subsequently went to Louisville in 2010.

Now, nearly a full year later after beating the University of Miami in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, Bridgewater returns to Miami to attempt to break the hearts of Miami fans yet again.

Bridgewater, being from Miami and having played high school football at Northwestern, still has a plethora of support in Miami. It will be interesting to see how many Bridgewater fans show up to Sun Life Stadium Sunday.

3. Can the Dolphins play 60 minutes of football?

This is the question that has plagued this Dolphin team all season. This Dolphins team has played only two complete games this season, against the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, and both of those games were virtually won by halftime.

The Dolphins need to show they can play a full 60 minute game with high-intensity, energy and focus. If this recurring problem spills over into the Dolphins' contest against the Vikings then things will get very ugly after the game for Joe Philbin and his team.

4. Miller Time

For the love of God, feed this man the rock. Lamar Miller has only one game with at least 20 touches this year, and it was exactly 20 touches.

Miller has proven himself to be a much better runner this year, but has seemingly been punished for it, being taken out of games before he finds a good rhythm. Miller, who averages 4.7 yards per attempt, only averages 12.7 carries per game.

The Vikings have a strong secondary but are vulnerable against the run. Minnesota gives up 4.3 yards per carry defensively.

Miller has 829 yards on the season, and he and the offensive line are determined to get Miller to his first career 1,000-yard season. But in order for that to happen, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will have to set his clock to Miller Time.

5. Key stats

Third down, redzone, fourth quarter. These are the three areas the Dolphins have struggled with the most this season. These issues can be linked to personnel, play-calling and execution (meaning it's not just one problem causing these issues).

Can the Dolphins produce in these situations Sunday? It will be interesting to see.

6. Aggression

No, this doesn't refer to the team (though we should expect to see an angry bunch playing for pride). Takeaways and chunk yardage plays, can the Dolphins produce these? The season is coming to an end, which means the time to play it safe is long gone and the time to gamble is upon us.

We saw the Dolphins offense do that last week, taking five deep shots downfield in the first half. Now let's see how far this aggressive nature can take the Dolphins. The style of play they are using now isn't working, let's see where a bit more aggression on offense can take them.

Same thing goes defensively. For the secondary however. Miami's cornerbacks play with a seven-yard cushion on nearly every play. The Dolphins should play their cornerbacks a bit closer to the line and let them jump some routes. Especially on blitzes. The most frustrating thing is seeing the Dolphins send in a beautifully timed and schemed blitz only to have the opposing quarterback get rid of the ball to an open underneath receiver because of off-coverage.

7. A game Miami should win

The Dolphins are 4-0 against teams with a losing record. According to the trend of the season, the Dolphins should win this game. Now, I have no idea what will happen, but I do know that the Vikings are a well-coached team under Mike Zimmer and will be ready to play come kickoff.

This is a game the Dolphins should win, and to this point in the season they have been able to. But you know what they say.... Anything can happen on any given Sunday!