The Oakland Raiders (7-4) travel to Sun Life Stadium on Sunday as the Miami Dolphins (3-8) look to rebound from a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Raiders are coming off of a five point victory over the Chicago Bears riding the right leg of kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who set a franchise record of six field goals, and the 301 yards of passing from quarterback Carson Palmer. The Raiders hold a 16-13-1 advantage over the Dolphins, but Miami has won eight of the last nine meetings. Here are some of the things to watch for that might determine the outcome on Sunday.
1) Pressure Palmer And Take It Away – This is a must on Sunday afternoon for the Dolphins defense! This unit has been playing an aggressive style of defense, and it shows up on in the statistics! The Dolphins defense has forced six turnovers in the last three games and compiled 11 sacks over the last four games! They also have been able to keep opposing teams out of the end zone, only giving up two touchdowns over the last four games! Linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett have found a way to find the ball carrier and their personal numbers have gone up drastically over the last month. It’s imperative that players like Cam Wake (six and a half sacks) and Jared Odrick (four sacks) find Palmer holding on to the football a little bit too long! I’ll be watching for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to use different coverages and players like safeties Yeremiah Bell and Tyrone Culver to try and disguise coverages and make Palmer force the football into tight coverage.
2) Moore Is A Difference Maker – The Dolphins have been relying on the right arm of quarterback Matt Moore over the past couple of weeks, and things might not change this week against Oakland. Moore has played well over a four week stretch for Miami, and this offense has been able to move the football with consistency and score enough points to win football games! Moore drove this offense to three straight drives of over 70 yards in the second half against Dallas, and has the ability to get everyone involved. That will be the key to victory for the Dolphins on Sunday. The more that players like Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, Charles Clay, Davone Bess and Brian Hartline get used, that means the ball is getting out on time and the chains are moving! The Raiders have a big athletic front seven on defense, and it will be important to throw the football on time, and mix the running game in to keep the pressure on the pocket to a minimum.
3) Win The Kicking Game – Most of the time this season, the Dolphins usually have a edge when it comes to the kicking game with punter Brandon Fields and place-kicker Dan Carpenter. This week it’s really a toss-up because of the success of kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler. Carpenter is coming off of a groin injury and has missed the last two games for Miami, but is enjoying a solid season. His season average is equal to his career average of 81 percent, and Fields will need to keep the Raiders on a long field. His 24 punts inside the 20 yards line will need to continue this Sunday! Lechler also is efficient when it come to pinning the opposing offense inside the 20, placing four punts inside the twenty last week against the Bears, with two of those landing inside the five yard line. Janikowski is coming off of a six field goal performance, but may be effected by a nagging left hamstring injury. This will be a constant battle for field position and could really be the difference late the second quarter or at the end of the game in someone driving for a last-second score!
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