Week 14 Preview: Ravens at Dolphins

The Sports Xchange

December 04, 2014 at 11:26 am.

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Miami Dolphins (7-5)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at SunLife Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla. – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein

*Keys to the game: Run fits and tackling have been the buzzwords around the Dolphins’ facility this week with the defense allowing 478 rushing yards over the past two weeks. Miami threw eight and nine defenders into the box against the Jets last week with little fear of the pass, and still gave up 277 yards on the ground. The Dolphins will see more of the same with RB Justin Forsett (1,009 rushing yards) leading the charge for the Ravens.

Baltimore wants to blow Miami off the line in the ground game and keep the defense off-balance with a few reverses and screens, and not subject QB Joe Flacco to being forced to throw the ball into the teeth of Miami’s pass rush.

The Dolphins’ offense has hit a nice stride with QB Ryan Tannehill completing at least 70 percent of his passes in each of his past five games. He isn’t accurate on the deep ball and the Ravens’ safeties can focus on plays in front of them, but Tannehill did find rookie WR Jarvis Landry on a few slants and passes over the seam last week. RB Lamar Miller’s role also becomes more important with the suspension of Ravens DT Haloti Ngata, a big setback for the league’s fourth-ranked run defense. Rookie Timmy Jernigan, who has 12 tackles and a pair of sacks, will see increased snaps in his place.

*Matchup to watch – Ravens WR Steve Smith vs. Dolphins CB Brent Grimes: Smith needs 74 receiving yards to pass Steve Largent for 15th place on the all-time list. Grimes may shadow him, which increases the pressure on the other side of the field against speedy Torrey Smith, especially if Cortland Finnegan (ankle) misses his fourth consecutive game.

*Player spotlight – Dolphins TE Dion Sims: With Charles Clay missing the past two games, Sims has emerged as a reliable option, including catching all four of his targets for 58 yards last week.

*Fast facts: The Ravens have knocked the Dolphins out of the playoffs in Miami’s last two appearances — 2008 (29-9) and 2001 (20-3). … The Dolphins have allowed four 100-yard rushers. They allowed only two all of last season.


Miller should have more success with Ngata out of the picture, enabling Tannehill to pepper the league’s second-worst pass defense with a slew of bubble screens and underneath passes to keep the chains moving. The question is whether Miami can cash in once it reaches the red zone.

*Our pick: Dolphins 23-20