AFC Wild Card hopefuls meet in Indy
The Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts are two of five teams currently tied for the last wild-card spot in the AFC at 5-5, but they appear to be headed in opposite directions.
Miami started 3-0 but has since lost five of seven — and one of the wins during that stretch saw the Dolphins beat the Jets despite gaining just 168 total yards and seven first downs on offense. Other than that 13-6 win, Miami has allowed at least 27 points in every game since Sept. 30.
Meanwhile, the Colts have battled back to .500 after a 1-5 start. After struggling to protect Andrew Luck for years, Indianapolis has allowed just 10 sacks and is averaging more than 420 yards on offense over the last seven games. The Colts defense is doing its part as well, ranking fourth in the NFL with 19 takeaways.
Miami at Indianapolis
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 25 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Colts -9.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Nothing Luck-y about it
After he missed all of 2017 with a shoulder injury, no one knew quite what to expect from Andrew Luck this season. Could he be the same quarterback who led the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons? Or had injuries taken a permanent toll? Safe to say we have our answer, and it’s the one Colts fans were hoping for. Luck is on pace for his fourth 4,000-yard season and is second in the NFL in touchdown passes with 29, on pace to shatter his career high of 40. He’s thrown at least three touchdown passes in seven straight games, the third-longest such streak in NFL history. Luck is proving he’s as good as ever if the Colts can protect him – and they haven’t allowed a sack since Oct. 4, a run of 214 straight passes.
2. Miami’s quarterback situation
The Dolphins are hoping to have starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill back from a shoulder injury soon, but it may not be this week. If Tannehill still can’t go, it will be Brock Osweiler, who has started the last five games. Since somehow throwing for 380 yards and not being sacked in a win over the Bears in his first start, Osweiler has struggled. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown in a month, and he is taking four sacks per game on average, twice as many as Tannehill was taking before he went down. Osweiler has had success against Indianapolis in the past, however: He beat the Colts twice as the Texans starter in 2016, and he came off the bench for the Broncos last season to rally them past Indianapolis with two touchdown passes and another on the ground.
3. Injury report
Tannehill isn’t the only one battling to get healthy. Miami has three offensive linemen (Ted Larsen, Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James) who didn’t play last week and are listed as questionable. The Dolphins also could be without wideout DeVante Parker and running back Kenyan Drake, who are both battling shoulder injuries. With Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant already lost for the season, Miami is running out of weapons. The Colts are generally in better shape, but starting center Ryan Kelly left last week’s game with a knee injury. Kelly is a huge piece of the rebuilt Indianapolis line, and his absence could put that no-sacks streak in jeopardy.
There’s a reason Indianapolis is favored by almost 10 points in a game between teams with the same record. While they are part of a logjam in the AFC Wild Card race now, the Colts look like the best 5-5 team by a lot. And with only one game left on the schedule against a team that currently has a winning record, don’t be surprised if the Colts keep rolling.
Prediction: Colts 30, Dolphins 20