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What to watch for: Week 13 Dolphins @ Ravens

Here are three things to watch for as the Miami Dolphins take on the Baltimore Ravens, in an AFC Slobber knocker.

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Mike Wallace revenge game

I will be the first one to admit I was excited when the Dolphins inked Mike Wallace to a 5 year, $60 million dollar contract. In no world is he worth that kind of money, but Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin were desperate after cutting ties with Pro Bowl wide receiver, Brandon Marshall. During his time with Miami, Wallace put up big numbers. In his two seasons, Wallace recorded 140 receptions, 1,792 yards and 15 touchdowns, impressive numbers for most wide receivers. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, and Wallace, he also had 32 drops in that span. Miami inevitably traded Wallace to the Vikings, in exchange for a 2015 fifth-round draft pick. That pick ultimately led to running back Jay Ajayi.

Now in Baltimore, Mike Wallace has had a resurgence alongside quarterback Joe Flacco. Through eleven games in 2016, Wallace has accounted for 51 receptions, 792 yards and four touchdowns. It will be interesting to see how Vance Joseph and the Dolphins’ secondary decides to attack the speedy wide receiver. Byron Maxwell will likely cover Wallace, whose big-play ability could cause problems for Miami’s defensive backs. There’s also the possibility the coaching staff decides to use Maxwell on Steve Smith Sr. Wallace would then go up against second-year cornerback Tony Lippett, who has been very impressive this season. Whichever cornerback ultimately covers Wallace, they will have their hands full vs one of the NFL’s most explosive wide receivers.

Jay Ajayi vs Baltimore’s #1 ranked run defense

Jay Ajayi is a very good running back. I’d go as far as saying he’s one of the NFL’s elite running backs. He has shown the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. Ajayi also possesses the strength and power to bulldoze over defenders. I was in attendance for his breakout game vs the Steelers, where Ajayi rushed for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns. He averaged a godly 8.2 yards per carry. Miami’s offensive line was healthy for the first time all season, which had a helping hand in Ajayi’s big day. The following week, he broke 200 yards again, this time against the Bills. Heading into their week 7 game, Buffalo was the No.1 rated run defense. Ajayi, was able to record his second back-to-back 200 yard game vs the Bill’s stingy defense. Miami hopes they can have similar success against the NFL’s current No.1 rush defense.

Some of Ajayi’s success could be credited to a healthy offensive line. They’ve rushed the ball well all year when healthy. Interesting enough, the Dolphins will get Laremy Tunsil back on Sunday, and Brandon Albert is a game-time decision. With Pouncey still out, Anthony Steen will continue to play center. Something has to give on Sunday, and I fully expect Adam Gase to give Ajayi every opportunity to make an impact.

Ryan Tannehill vs Baltimore’s secondary

Throughout the Dolphins six-game win streak, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been playing exceptional football. Tannehill has recorded a 104.7 passer rating over this time, and added 1,302 yards through the air. He has thrown for 9 touchdowns and only one interception during the streak. Two weeks ago when the Dolphins faced the Rams, Jeff Fisher’s primary focus was stopping the run. LA held the Dolphins scoreless for 56 minutes, but Tannehill and the Dolphins found a way to win. The same can be said about San Francisco, who attacked the Dolphins eerily similar last week. The 49ers loaded the box, forcing Tannehill to beat them with his arm. He did just that. Tannehill completed 20 of 30 passes for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns. Miami faces a tough task this week, against a very good Raven’s defense.

If Baltimore is able to contain Jay Ajayi, Tannehill will be called upon to carry the Dolphins to victory. Ravens defensive back Jimmy Smith appears to be good to go, which would make thing more difficult for Tannehill and the Dolphins. Nonetheless, if the offensive line can give Tannehill time, the receivers should be able to create separation, putting pressure on the Ravens defense.

Tomorrow is the Dolphins first game in December, and for the first time in a long time, the game has meaning. #FinsUp