clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Five Players To Watch: Dolphins vs. Chiefs

New, comments

The Dolphins face their final road test of the 2017 season Sunday in Kansas City. Here is a look at five players to keep an eye on as we near the end of the regular season

NFL: Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It's starting to look like the remaining two weeks of the 2017 season has turned into playing the role of spoiler following last week's 24-16 loss against Buffalo as Miami travels to Kansas City to face the Chiefs Sunday before wrapping up the season at home against the Bills.

The two remaining opponent's chances of making the playoffs took a step in the right direction last week as Buffalo remains a wild-card team in the standings while the Chiefs took sole possession of the AFC West after their 30-13 victory at home against the Chargers.

If Miami is to keep its slim hopes of a playoff berth alive, these next two games are must wins - and plenty of assistance from other teams around the league will be needed to make this a reality.

With that, here are five players to keep an eye on this Sunday as the Dolphins play their final road game in a season that has been filled with its fair share of ups and downs.

Ndamukong Suh

The success of the Kansas City Chiefs offense has been largely determined by the performance of rookie running back, Kareem Hunt.

When the Chiefs have been able to consistently run the ball this season quarterback Alex Smith has been a very efficient passer and looks like he could be considered in the running for league MVP.

However, when Hunt hasn't been able to get it going on the ground and the Chiefs offense has been forced to lean too heavily on the pass game, Smith hasn't been nearly efficient and the offense has sputtered.

If Suh can continue to take on double teams to free up linebackers, and get home with a few tackles for a loss when penetrating run gaps, the Dolphins and their 13th-ranked run defense may be able to make the Chiefs one dimensional, which has been the solution to beating the Chiefs so far this season.

DeVante Parker

We witnessed a mini breakout last week from Parker who posted six catches for 89 yards against Buffalo, his most receiving yards in a single game this season and only the second time he's recorded more than 80 yards in a game this season.

The Dolphins used Parker in more crossing and medium-ranged routes that he's excelled with in the past, so hopefully this trend continues Sunday against the Chiefs as the team clearly benefits by having Parker take some attention away from Jarvis Landry and Kenyan Drake who have been the team's go-to guys on offense the second half of the season.

Parker will likely see a handful of Chiefs standout cornerback, Marcus Peters, who is fifth in the NFL with five interceptions. Peters' aggressive style of play often puts him in position to capitalize on mistakes by opposing team's quarterbacks, but also leaves him prone to allowing a big play, which Parker has the ability to make, but just hasn't done it yet in the NFL on a consistent basis.

Mike Pouncey

In his seventh season after being the Dolphins' first-round pick back in 2011, Pouncey is on pace to play his first full 16-game season since 2012.

Plagued by injuries since entering the league, Pouncey returned in 2017 following hip surgery, and while implementing a strategic practice schedule both during the offseason and regular season, has been the healthiest member of the offensive line so far.

Pouncey's performance is clearly critical to the success of both the run and pass game for the Dolphins, but it'll be important for him to excel and remain a consistent contributor - while staying healthy - over the next two weeks as he's due $9 million in 2018.

Travis Kelce

Quite possibly the most glaring weakness on the Dolphins' defense this year has been the inability to cover opposing team's tight ends.

Kelce missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an illness, but if he's able to play Sunday, he'll consistently create mismatches as he's the type of playmaking tight end that can produce against any defense.

He should have an excellent opportunity for a breakout game against Miami's defense that has failed to master the art of holding opposing team's tight ends in check.

Tyreek Hill

Chiefs fans have been nothing but smiles since the team added Hill as he's a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

Hill's speed is off the charts and the Chiefs continue to get the ball in his hands as a runner, returner and as a receiver, as his "go" route against man coverage on the outside is known to be a quick producer of points.

Dolphins' cornerback, Xavien Howard, continued his streak of playing well last week against the Bills despite his two-game interception streak coming to an end, but he may have his hands full Sunday against a player who's straight-line speed is second to none in the NFL.