The Dolphins will play their final home game of the season as well as their final game of 2010 when they welcome the 4-10 Detroit Lions to Sun Life Stadium. While the 7-7 Fins have been eliminated from post-season contention, they are playing to not only get back above .500, but to win for just the second time at home this season.
While the Lions record is not fear inspiring, there is some definite talent on this team and guys to watch out for. Keep reading to see what our experts think about this Week 16 match-up: Keith Sims will tell you what the Dolphins are playing for this season, Sam Madison will break down WR Calvin Johnson, and John Congemi tells you what Miami’s offensive objectives should be against the Detroit…
Now that the Dolphins have been officially eliminated from the Playoffs, many people are wondering, “What do they have to play for?” I hear the word “pride” thrown around a lot, but that is nowhere near the #1 thing these guys will be playing for on Sunday.
If you think about it for a minute, you will come up with the answer. Remember this quote: “You play to win the game”? Sometimes it’s that simple. This Dolphins team can’t win the AFC East, or even make the playoffs, but they can go out there Sunday and do everything within their power to win a football game.
They started working out nine months ago just to get the chance to play in 16 NFL regular season football games. This is #15. You don’t throw away months and months of pain, sweat and tears just because your team can’t make the playoffs. I have never meet and elite player that every time they stepped on the field of play, that did not want and try there best to win that game.
Athletes are very competitive. Ask my kids, I love to compete whether it’s a game of chess or a Madden game on the PS3. We don’t know how to turn it off, well maybe when our children are involved, but not with grown men and certainly not other professional football players. And the last time i checked, they are keeping score and the results of this game go in the record books.
When speaking about this Detroit Lions offense, all you can say is WOW. With all the ups and down over the last 10 years, the players seem to finally be turning the corner and starting to gel together and look really good. Not since Barry Sanders’ amazing runs and ability to make people look silly on the field have the Lions felt as good about a player as they do about Calvin Johnson.
Vontae Davis and Sean Smith will have a chance to show and prove why this Dolphins defense has been so good this year. Johnson is the best all-round WR in the game today with 73 receptions and a long catch of 87. Look for a Smith vs. Johnson match up this time around. The Fins “D” only allows 201.4 yards a game through the air and to keep that average low, the DB’s will have to double team Johnson. If it’s Sean or Vontae, look for Johnson to have a safety over the top of him all game to limit the big play. Mike Nolan will be the key to this battle, in picking when to man-up on the wideout or when to throw the kitchen sink at this offense. This match-up is key for the Dolphins to get their second win at home.
My offensive wish list against the Lions this week includes an opening drive that results in points! It would be nice to see this offense put together a drive to start the game and get some rhythm. The offensive line needs to locate defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Cliff Avril.
Suh leads all rookies with eight sacks and only needs three to set the NFL rookie defensive tackle record! He’s a tough body to move in the run game and the Dolphins must account for him. Avril can get to the quarterback as well and has seven sacks in the last six games for the Lions. Chad Henne must continue to look to get Brandon Marshall the football, and spread the wealth like he did against the Bills last week. Marshall hauled in a season-best 11 receptions last week and will look to get into the endzone for the third straight week on Sunday.
The combination of Marshall and Davone Bess (71 receptions on the year) should have a productive afternoon if Henne has time to deliver. The Dolphins haven’t been consistent enough on offense to be a playoff team this season, but they have the talent to win on Sunday.
Be sure to join us for gameday coverage beginning at 11am with the “Tony Sparano Show.” You can watch on CBS-4 and at Dolphins.com or listen on 940-WINZ or BIG 105.9FM. Keith, Sam, John, and I will bring you the Finsiders Natural Gas Pregame Show at 12 and kickoff is set for 1 o’clock.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.