WILDCARD WEEKEND- AFC (SUNDAY)

nfl-wild-cardAnother AFC playoff game, another team starting a backup quarterback.  Woof.  Ginger King was right; can we just skip to the part where the Patriots win the AFC?  And how long after Belichick retires until they change the name of the Lamar Hunt trophy?

Miami @ Pittsburgh (-11), Sunday, 1:05 pm

This game is a rematch of Week 6, were the 7 point home underdog Miami Dolphins upset the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-15.  That game was the turning point of the Dolphins season.  Entering the game with a 1-4 record, the Dolphins won 9 of the next 11 to secure a playoff berth.

Of course, there are quite a few differences between then and now.  For starters, it’ll be about 70 degrees colder.  The Dolphins can downplay the weather all they want, but they are kidding themselves if they think it won’t affect them.  Of far bigger concern is the Week 15 MCL injury that has sidelined starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.  Tannehill doesn’t exactly scare defenses, but he was quietly putting together a solid season (3,000 yards, 19 TDs) under the tutelage of quarterback-whisperer Adam Gase.  Next man up is journeyman Matt Moore.  Best descripted as a “gamer”; meaning he isn’t shy to throw it around…whether it’s his guys or the other team catching it is another story.

Where's the clipboard?

Where’s the clipboard?

The Steelers are going to be looking for redemption from the Week 6 matchup as it was their worst offensive game of the season.  Ben Roethlisberger got knocked out of that game early and missed an offensive series before returning, but was never quite right.  As a result, the entire offense was in a funk and never could snap out.  These are highly uncharacteristic stat lines:

Week 6

Roethlisberger :  19/34, 189 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Bell: 10 attempts, 53 yards, 0 TD

Brown:  4 catches, 39 yards, 0 TD

The Steelers have been red-hot, winners of their last seven games.  They are 6-2 at Heinz Field and average nearly a touchdown more at home as opposed to the road.  They will move the ball on the Dolphins and score points.  The Dolphins won’t be able to shutdown Ben, Bell and Brown this time around.

Defensively the Steelers should sellout to stop the run and force Matt Moore to beat them.  Jay Ajaji gashed them for over 200 yards.  Ajaji has a bit of Beastmode in him and seems to get stronger as the game wears on.

The house that Ketchup built

The house that Ketchup built

I don’t think the Dolphins can keep pace with the Steelers at Heinz Field.  I’ve got the Steelers cruising to victory, putting them in Arrowhead next week.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 34, Miami 17

Miami Dolphins v Pittsburgh Steelers

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