The Dolphins and Steelers faced each other in the regular season and the result was a dominant 30-15 win for the Dolphins in which running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards as part of a streak of 3 consecutive 200 plus yard rushing games. With the uncertain status of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill the team may need a repeat performance of such a dynamic rushing performance in order to pull off a tough road upset on Sunday afternoon. The Steelers have quietly won just one playoff game since the start of the 2011 season. They have the benefit of coming into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league and the winners of 7 straight games. Coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have been through multiple playoff runs together and appear poised to make a run at another Superbowl ring.
The Dolphins are unsure as to who will start at quarterback. Tannehill sprained his foot on 12/11/16 and has not played or practiced in full since. He has not been ruled out yet but it is likely that veteran Matt Moore will get the start. Regardless as to who starts at quarterback the team will rely heavily on Ajayi who had a breakout season. The Steelers can certainly be expected to prepare to stop the run so it will be up to the Dolphins to have an alternative plan in the event they are unable to get a running game going. The Dolphins are far from a team filled with big time names outside of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and they will need all of their lesser known players to step up big to pull off a huge upset on the road. The offensive line will have the task of keeping whoever starts at quarterback standing up and creating lanes for the running game.
The Steelers have the experience advantage at Head Coach with the proven Tomlin who has proven to be able to win games in the playoffs over his career. Roethlisberger will be making his 18th career playoff start and has an 11-6 career postseason record with 2 Superbowl wins. Superstar running back Le’Veon Bell will be making his playoff debut after missing all three playoff games during his career. He is the leagues best running back and is dual threat as a receiver and a rusher. He finished the season 1,268 yards rushing and 616 receiving yards in only 12 games played. To top it off the Steelers also have arguably the leagues best wide receiver who had 106 catches for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Dolphins ranked 29th in total defense and gave up 30 or more points in 3 of its last 5 regular season games. With the Steelers weapons on offense the game could easily get away from the Dolphins early if they don’t find a way to put some points on the board early. There will be a lot of pressure on whomever plays quarterback for the Dolphins to lead his offense to a hot start.
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