Who: Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)
Where: Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX
When: Sunday, September 9th at 1:00 P.M. EST
The NFL season kicks off this weekend and the Miami Dolphins will begin the Joe Philbin era in Houston to take on the 2011 AFC South champions, the Houston Texans. The Dolphins are coming off of a 6-10 season in 2011 while Houston is coming off of a 10-6 season which resulted in the franchise’s first division title, playoff appearance and playoff victory. Houston has one of the best offensive trios in the NFL when healthy with quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson. They will give the Miami defense plenty to handle in Week 1. The big news for the Dolphins is rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who will be making the start in his first NFL game.
The Texans and Dolphins met during Week 2 of last season with Houston coming out on top 23-13 in South Florida. The Dolphins trailed by 13 at one point and closed to with three before a Johnson touchdown put the game away for the Texans. Houston is the only team never defeated by the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have lost all six meetings between the teams since the Texans joined the league in 2002. Four of the six losses for Miami have been in Houston. The Miami Dolphins will be looking to win their opener for just the second time since 2006. Houston has won its last two regular season openers.
Keys to a ‘Fins Win
Find Offensive Balance
With rookie Ryan Tannehill making his first career start for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, it will be important for the ‘Fins to relieve the pressure on the young signal-caller. That’s why the Miami Dolphins will need to find a way to run the football. Reggie Bush is coming off a 1,000 yard season while second year man Daniel Thomas actually rushed for a career-high 107 yards against the Texans last season in Miami. If the Dolphins are able to be effective running the football and can get into third down and manageable, that would remove a huge burden off of Tannehill’s shoulders and could help utilize his athleticism by giving him the run-pass option on third down.
Eliminate Big Plays
The Miami defense has a real challenge this weekend against the high-powered Houston offense. The Dolphins held their own last season against the Texans, but big plays were the difference. Andre Johnson burned the Dolphins deep twice including a 23-yard touchdown reception late that put the game away. Jacoby Jones also made a long reception against the Miami defense a year ago. If the Dolphins are to stick around in this one and possibly pull the upset, they will need to force Houston to be methodical on the offensive side of the ball.
The struggles that led to an 0-7 start a year ago for the Miami Dolphins were largely made up of self inflicted wounds. That was the case last season against the Texans in Week 2 as well. Miami committed a pair of turnovers that led to seven points for Houston in last season’s 23-13 loss. Kicker Dan Carpenter also missed two short field goals in that one as the Dolphins finished the day with just one touchdown and one field goal in four trips into the red zone. Every scoring opportunity for the Dolphins’ offense will be critical on Sunday, but it will be equally as important not to set the potent Texans’ offense up with a short field.
Outside the Redzone gives you Breaking Sports News, Opinion and Analysis with a Southeastern Feel and be sure to “Like” us on Facebook!