It's an important early-season game for the Colts and Dolphins as they play in Miami on Sunday. The home team is 1-2 while Indy is 0-3 so far on the season so a win is necessary to keep both in their respective division races. These two last played back in 2019 when the Dolphins took it 16-12 in Indianapolis. It was an awful contest as Ryan Fitzpatrick dueled Brian Hoyer with neither surpassing 205 passing yards.
The Colts were very lackluster on offense in their 25-16 loss at Tennessee last week. Carson Wentz was 19-of-37 for 194 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Indy was outgained by more than 100 yards despite forcing three turnovers. The defense allowed the Titans to rush for 180 yards in the victory with Derrick Henry accounting for 113 of them.
Meanwhile, it was a roller-coaster game for the Dolphins last week as they blew a 14-0 early lead in Las Vegas, but came back from a 25-14 deficit in order to send it to overtime. In the extra frame, the teams traded field goals before the Raiders sealed the deal with another as time expired. Much like Wentz, Jacoby Brissett was underwhelming in his first start in relief of an injured Tua Tagovailoa, completing 32 of 49 pass attempts for 215 yards with no touchdowns or picks. The heralded Miami defense gave up nearly 500 yards and allowed Las Vegas to hold the ball for nearly 40 minutes.
Indianapolis (0-3) at Miami (1-2)
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Dolphins -1.5
Three Things to Watch
The Colts are in the middle of a three-game stretch of road games. Last week was a big divisional contest that didn't go their way so there could be a little bit of a hangover. But considering the squad is winless, I think they'll be focused down in South Florida. Next up for Indianapolis is a date with Baltimore on "Monday Night Football." The Dolphins have dropped two in a row, the last one out in Las Vegas, so it'll be nice to be home. Miami has a matchup in Tampa Bay looming, which may actually help the team focus on the opportunity to get a win on Sunday.
2. QB play
Wentz has not been the addition that the Colts were hoping for so far in 2021, although it should be pointed out that his training camp and preseason were greatly hindered by a foot injury that required surgery. He has just three touchdown passes vs. one interception, but the yardage has been relatively unimpressive. He's also been sacked eight times and has sprained both of his ankles, which are limiting his practice participation. Sunday could offer an opportunity to jump-start the passing attack, as Miami is 19th in passing defense at 265.3 yards per game allowed.
On the other side is Brissett, who is getting another opportunity to start because of Tagovailoa's injury. Brissett is still looking for his first touchdown pass and is 56-for-89 overall. If there was a team familiar with what he can do, it's the Colts. Brissett spent four seasons (2017-20) in Indianapolis, going 11-19 as a starter (36 total games). Brissett has typically done a good job with his decision-making (31:19 TD-to-INT ratio with Colts), but he's also just a career 60 percent passer. Indianapolis' pass defense (233.0 ypg) has been more reliable than the rush defense (140.3 ypg) in the early going.
3. Playing like it's a must-win
Last year the Dolphins started the season 1-3 and didn't make the postseason even after going 9-3 the rest of the way. Both of these teams' divisions present plenty of win opportunities with the likes of Jacksonville and Houston in the AFC South and the Jets in the AFC East. Miami already has a victory over the Patriots on the road, but can't afford to lose too much ground on the Bills, who are heavily favored to beat the Texans on Sunday to improve to 3-1. Both the Dolphins and the Colts were projected by many to be playoff contenders this season, so it's time for them to act like teams that want to play in January.
With such a tight spread, I usually lean towards the home team in these situations especially since there are crowds in the stands. I just don't trust Wentz right now especially since he doesn't have a ton of weapons and Miami has one of the best cornerback duos in the league. It's also not great for the Colts that their best defensive player, linebacker Darius Leonard, is not at 100 percent because of an ankle injury, and it shows on the field. All that plus Brissett going up against his former team and I think the Dolphins win an ugly one.
Prediction: Dolphins 20, Colts 13
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.