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Miami Dolphins Vs. Los Angeles Rams: 3 Key Match-Ups

Let’s take a look at 3 of the most important battles, individual and team-wide, at determining the outcome of this week’s game.

Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Rams Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Back in the 2012 NFL off-season, the Miami Dolphins and the team formerly known as the St. Louis Rams were in a bidding war for a valiantly-mustachioed head coach by the name of Jeff Fisher. Fisher, of course, would go on to choose the Rams.

Ironically enough, that same year, the “Provider of Mustache Rides” faced off against the newly-hired coach of the Miami Dolphins, Joe “Annihilator of Ground Rubbish” Philbin. The Dolphins won 17-14 in a fugly contest. Will history repeat itself?

The last time a rookie QB won their first start? David Carr, 2002. The last time history cared about following a pattern? Never. This is one of those games, for me, where the jaded, cynical side of being a Dolphins fan is at war with the hopeful, optimistic side. I like to think that I know what the Dolphins are capable of, and it’s precisely this moment where I think I know something that I realize I don’t know s***, at least historically.

I have to stand by my earlier contention: this is a must-win game for the Miami Dolphins Playoff hopes. Both teams have played several close games this year, and again, this has all the makings of a nail-biter that is decided in the 4th quarter.

3) Cam Wake Vs. Rob Havenstein

Poor Rob Havenstein. OK, don’t pity him too much because he makes a lot of money playing football - but what a match-up nightmare for him. Havenstein might actually be their best OL, too. Cameron Wake is playing some of the best football of his career, and appears to have regained his strut and his “bend and rip” move. The Achilles no longer affects his explosion, which is bad news for any OL that tries to stop him.

Branch and/or Williams may have success against Greg Robinson, who is one of the worst rated tackles, per Pro Football Focus.

Anything we can do to shake up the confidence of a rookie QB making his 1st professional start will go a long way towards a W. A strip-sack might be the difference in the game.

2) Ryan Tannehill Vs. Rams DL

Tannehill has shown markedly improved pocket presence during the win streak. Going against a team who relies on the DL to win games, we’ll need every drop of pocket presence he has. With Branden Albert out and Mike Pouncey doubtful, the OL will not look as dominant on Sunday as we’ve seen during the win streak.

Although the status of Robert Quinn is still up in the air, the Rams DL has dictated many o’ games this year. Michael Brockers is a tremendous player; Aaron Donald has quickly asserted himself as one of the premier defenders in the NFL. Simply put, Donald is a one-man wrecking crew.

Tannehill will have to make quick decisions, and be able to progress to his check-down if the pocket collapses. This is a game we win if we play mistake-free football. We’ll stay run-oriented if possible, but Tannehill is going to have to step up and make throws. Having Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills healthier than last week helps, but DeVante Parker’s possible emergence in the last half of the season like last year might be the difference.

1) Todd Gurley Vs. Dolphins LB

Having this match-up at #1 is based on some other assumptions:

  • The goal of the game is to play mistake-free football (penalties and turnovers), and make the Rams outplay us.
  • Make Jared Goff beat us with quick decision making.
  • On offense, Miami runs left, away from Aaron Donald. The interior of the line will likely struggle with Aaron Donald. Running right has the inherent risk of getting blown up fast. (I bring up running direction because I think that’s why the Rams can limit our running game having a stud like Aaron Donald.)

With all this said, I think this game becomes Ryan Tannehill vs. Todd Gurley. Obviously if we can get Jay Ajayi going, we ride the J-Train like we have before. He’s performed well against the best of run defenses, so why the concern? The injury to Albert and Pouncey, and the stellar play of the Rams DL, has to give slight pause to the assumed success of the rushing attack. If Ryan Tannehill can do his part on 3rd down, connect on a big play or two, and play mistake-free, I like our chances.

In Gurley’s case, if he is able to get going, get 5-6 yard chunks at a time, and splash in a big play (my guess is it’ll be a screen), then Gurley can help the Rams maintain time of possession. The fresher the Rams D later in the game, the harder it becomes to overcome a deficit. Todd Gurley success is the main ingredient in a Miami Dolphins loss, penalties and turnovers notwithstanding.

What key match-ups do you see Phinsider Nation? Let’s hear it in the Comments!