There’s no doubt that Miami Dolphins fans should view this season as a success whether or not they can make a splash in this years NFL Playoffs. Adam Gase has been able to turn around the culture of this team on the field and in the locker room. He took a 1-4 team that was on its way to disappoint as usual, to a team that would finish of the season 9-2 and clinch its first playoff spot since 2008.
The Dolphins would along the way lose Mike Pouncy, Reshad Jones, Koa Misi, and other starters for a period of time; which doesn’t include the Dolphins with Matt Moore behind center for the last 3+ games (Dolphins went 3-1). No doubt he is a very good back up quarterback with a lot of trust from his coaching staff and teammates, but the belief is that Tannehill will be the starting quarterback when he comes back from injury. That is the exact issue though, Gase hasn’t ruled out Tannehill yet for their match up against Pittsburgh in the first round. Although, it didn’t sound to good for his chances of playing. Gase mentioned in a press conference earlier this week that he knows Tannehill wants to play, but that he is going to make the choice, and not let him play if he’s not ready.
The Pittsburgh Steelers should be the most feared team in the AFC after the Patriots, and will definitely prove a tough test for Miami. The Dolphins are on the road, in cold weather, and playing a hungry revengeful team that they beat in the regular season. During that 30-15 win against the Steelers Big Ben wasn’t at his healthiest and didn’t even play the entire game. The Dolphins will see a better version of this team for sure.
In order to win the Dolphins will have to get to Roethlisberger with the likes of Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, and Andre Branch. Limiting Le’Veon Bell will also be a tough task, but I don’t see this being a low scoring game, so in the end whether it’s Matt Moore or Ryan Tannehill behind center, they will have to match the Steelers offense and make big throws when it counts. Controlling the clock with the running game can also help the Dolphins manage the game; Jay Ajayi tore up the Steelers defense in week six with 204 yards rushing, and will likely need another big game if the Dolphins want to advance. Now eventually going through the Patriots will be by far the toughest task, but finding a way to get past Pittsburgh on the road is a great start.