The Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars meet each other for the seventh time on Sunday afternoon. The Dolphins have a 4-3 (including postseason) series advantage. Both teams enter their Week 2 matchup in different ways.
Miami defeated the Washington Redskins 17-10 in Week 1 behind a late punt return touchdown by wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Jacksonville lost to the Carolina Panthers 20-9 at Everbank Field. The Panthers forced three turnovers, including a Josh Norman interception for a touchdown.
Miami at Jacksonville
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. EST
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Miami -6.5
Three Things to Watch For
1. Miami Defensive Line
The Dolphins defensive line had a lot of hype surrounding it coming into the regular season. The team acquired All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and some experts expected the Dolphins to become one of the best defenses in the league. Miami’s defense looked far from great last week against Washington.
The Dolphins gave up 161 rushing yards to the Redskins last week. Washington ran away from Suh and used a lot of zone blocking to keep the Miami defense off balance.
Suh said he graded his performance as “poor” and the defensive line will play better as time goes on.
“At the end of the day it’s individual rushers that come together as a unit", said Suh. “So over time, obviously you have to play with guys to get a good feel for them and how they like to rush and do different things so over time you’ll be able to get good and be able to play off each other and do different things like that. I think we’ve done that in the past. I think we can continue to do it and have success in the future.”
This week, the Dolphins defensive line will have the task of slowing down running back T.J. Yeldon and the Jaguars’ rushing attack. Despite the win last week, the Miami defensive line hopes they can perform better in Jacksonville.
2. Blake Bortles
Last season, Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles had a very rough rookie season. In 14 games, Bortles threw for 2,908 yards and 11 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. Now that he had a full season to adjust to the NFL, Bortles is a player many expect to improve this season, but he had a mediocre performance in Week 1.
Bortles finished 22-of-40 for 183 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions. He also completed 55 percent of his passes against the Carolina defense.
With the Dolphins focusing on improving on their rush defense this week, Bortles will have to make plays in order for the Jaguars to win the game.
3. Ryan Tannehill
Bortles wasn’t the only quarterback who comes into this game not playing well in Week 1. While the numbers say Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill played a solid game, the fourth-year player believes he can play better.
“Obviously, I wasn’t happy with how I played, but we got the win", said Tannehill. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re working for and we’re looking to correct the things that we didn’t do so well.”
Tannehill completed 22-of-34 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown pass last week against the Redskins, but he left a number of plays out on the field. He missed on a number of passes, including a pass to tight end Dion Sims, which Sims stretched out and suffered a concussion in the end zone.
If the Dolphins are going to win the AFC East like many experts predicted, Tannehill will have to play a lot better than he did in Week 1. He looked like the same inconsistent quarterback Tannehill has been the last three seasons and that won’t get the Dolphins to the playoffs.
In spite of their below average performance on offense last week against Washington, the Dolphins defense forced two interceptions. Against another inexperience quarterback in Bortles, the opportunities will be there to force turnovers.
Unless the Jaguars can run the ball like the Redskins did last week, it will be hard to control the ball like Washington did. While T.J. Yeldon has a lot of talent, he isn’t nearly as talent as Washington running back Alfred Morris, who had 121 yards on 25 carries against the Dolphins defense in Week 1.
Jacksonville has a very questionable offensive line, so that should create more opportunities for Suh, Cameron Wake and the Dolphins defensive line to make more plays this week.
Expect the Dolphins to run the ball more to running back Lamar Miller, which will take pressure off of Tannehill. Jacksonville finished fifth in the NFL in sacks a season ago and the Miami offensive line gave up three sacks to an inferior defensive line.
If Bortles can avoid the major mistake, Jacksonville should keep it close at halftime before Miami pulls away in the second half.
Prediction: Dolphins 28, Jaguars 13
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.