It’s the Offseason All-Stars Bowl! Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins dominated headlines this summer by making a flurry of additions through free agency and the draft, trying to cut to the front of the “Super Bowl contenders” line. But, like other ass**** line-cutters before them, each team has been sent back whence they came.
Both Miami and Philly enter this weekend with a 3-4 record and, depending on what happens this Sunday, next week’s clash at the Linc (Sunday, Nov. 15, at 1:00 PM Eastern) could put them right back in the playoff race or essentially end their season.
The Dolphins are 2-1 under interim head coach Dan Campbell heading into Week 9, with two blowout wins over the awful Titans and Texans and a blowout loss at the hands of the Patriots. Without seeing this team play an even-keeled opponent, it’s still very hard to get a read on what they’re capable of. What has become clear is that this Dolphin offense works best when Lamar Miller stays involved. Miami is 3-0 when the running back gets 13 or more carries and 0-4 when he doesn’t.
Relying less on the pass game will put less pressure on Ryan Tannehill. Now in his fourth season, the QB was supposed to flourish, but is on pace to throw a career-high 21 interceptions. “Tanny’s” carelessness with the ball, and the defense’s inability to take it away, has saddled Miami with a -3 turnover differential this season.
Meanwhile, for all the talk of Chip Kelly’s offense heading into the season, it’s the Eagle defense that is giving this team a fighting chance in a bad NFC East. Philly leads the NFL in takeaways with 19 (11 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries). But Sam Bradford has been even worse than Tannehill at not giving the ball to the opposing team, throwing ten interceptions through seven games.
But just when you thought Kelly had finally realized he brought in RBs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews for a reason, Bradford attempted 46 passes against the Panthers! Finishing the night with just 205 yards through the air (and a 4.46 yards per attempt average), hopefully the Eagles devoted the entire bye week to the running game, because that’s the only way they’ll have any success in the second half of the season.
If they stick to handing off the ball, both these teams are likely to have a good day moving the sticks against one another; Philadelphia is 17th against the run while Miami is tied for 25th. But, should they start throwing the ball around like crazy, this game will devolve into an ugly affair quickly.
The last time these two met (Dec. 2011), the Eagles took a 26-10 decision; four years removed, those results could not be more irrelevant. (Look at the box score. You’d be hard pressed to find three players on each side that are suiting up this weekend.) It goes to show you that while these teams have undergone massive change, that doesn’t always equate to massive improvements.
Heading into Week 9, the Eagles are 2-1 SU and ATS at home on the year, while the Dolphins are 2-2 in both categories away from home. Miami is also 12-15 SU on the road for Tannehill’s career. The Eagles should be the pick, but pay attention to how they play this weekend. If they continue to give Bradford around 50 attempts a game, stay away from Philly entirely.
Straight-up pick: Eagles.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)