Who: Miami Dolphins (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Where: U of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ
When: Sunday, September 30th at 4:05 P.M. EST
Last Week: Miami fell in overtime to the New York Jets 23-20; Arizona beat Philadelphia 27-6.
The Miami Dolphins head west this week following a heartbreaking loss at home to the New York Jets in overtime. The Dolphins will be facing one of the NFL’s more surprising teams through three weeks, the Arizona Cardinals. There is a chance that Miami may be without running back Reggie Bush for Sunday’s game; Bush banged his knee last Sunday in the second quarter against the Jets and would not return. The Cardinals are coming off of wins over the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in consecutive weeks and are 3-0 for the first time since 1974. Like his team, Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb has been one of the league’s pleasant surprises and is currently third in the NFL in passer rating. Kolb began the season as the team’s backup behind John Skelton.
Miami enters the contest at 1-2 which has the Dolphins tied with the New England Patriots for third place in the AFC East. Miami is a game back of the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, who defeated the ‘Fins last Sunday. At 3-0, Arizona is one of just three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL. The Cardinals hold a one-game lead over both the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. The Dolphins and Cardinals last met in 2008 with Arizona pounding Miami 31-10 in Glendale. Quarterback Kurt Warner passed for 361 yards in that one for the Cardinals and found receiver Anquan Boldin for three touchdowns.
Keys to a ‘Fins Win
Win the Turnover Battle
In Miami’s two losses this season, turnovers have been the biggest killer. In Week 1 against Houston, four Miami turnovers in the second quarter led to 24 Texan points. Then last week, a Ryan Tannehill interception early in the second half was returned by the New York Jets’ LaRon Landry for a touchdown to tie the game. Daniel Thomas put the ball on the ground on Miami’s very next play, but fortunately for the Dolphins, that didn’t lead to more Jets’ points. Meanwhile, Arizona has forced six turnovers through three games this season including a 93-yard fumble return for a touchdown by James Sanders on the final play of the first half against Philadelphia last Sunday. Miami has proven to be a very competitive team this year, but against a good team like the Cardinals, the Dolphins simply can’t afford to give points away.
Run the Football
It is uncertain as to whether or not the Miami Dolphins will have the services of Reggie Bush on Sunday, but Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller have shown to be serviceable subs. If the Dolphins are to play a solid offensive game against Arizona on Sunday, they will need to be able to run the football. Miami is currently fourth in the NFL when it comes to rushing. The Cardinals are 10th in the NFL in total defense, but have been better against the pass than the run this year. Miami being able to run the football would not only take some of the pressure off of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but it would help shorten the game and should give the Dolphins a very good shot to win.
Make Big Plays
Two weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins were able to make big plays in the ground game in a 35-13 win over the Oakland Raiders. In Miami’s two losses however, the Dolphins have been forced to be more methodical on offense. Aside from the long pass to Brian Hartline in overtime last week, the Dolphins did not have an offensive play of over 25 yards in the loss to the Jets. When it comes to yards-per-pass-attempt, Miami is just 30th in the NFL. Running the ball and taking care of it will be the biggest keys for Miami offensively on Sunday, but being able to hit big plays in the passing game would really provide the ‘Fins a much needed boost.
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