With a controlling win over the Chargers last week, the Miami Dolphins have proven that they are for real. Division rival Bills are on a bye this week, leaving Miami only a road win away from tying up the AFC East. And so, the Dolphins are traveling to Denver to face a struggling Broncos team.
The Dolphins’ Week 11 opponent, the Broncos, are currently sitting at 3-6 and a far third in the AFC West. They come into the week continuing to fight injuries, two games removed from their last win. As of Wednesday, quarterback Drew Lock has yet to practice, leaving Brett Rypien to take the first-team reps. Rypien, a second-year UDFA, has logged only one start in his NFL career, a win against the Jets in week four. He also holds only 40 passing attempts in his career, with 27 completions, 295 yards, and two touchdowns.
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With the Dolphins currently sitting at the fifth-best scoring defense in the league, and fourth in takeaways, it’s likely that the Miami defense will feast against the 30th ranked Broncos offense.
Emmanuel Ogbah has been on a tear, making a real argument for pro-bowl selection with eight sacks and three fumbles forced. Xavien Howard is well and truly back to his pro-bowl form, with five interceptions, good enough for second in the league. The entire secondary has been in top form, shutting down receivers week to week.
If Miami has any weakness on defense, it’s stopping the run. Through nine games the Dolphins have allowed 1153 yards, good for 4.7 ypa and 128 ypg. While Melvin Gordan may not be the dominant downhill rumbler that he was a few years ago, he can still blast weak teams. Additionally, Phillip Lindsay remains capable of ripping off a big run at any moment. The Dolphins will need to hold down the rushing game to keep control of this matchup.
Offense rolls along
On the other side of the ball, Tua has shown that he can manage the offense in just about any situation he needs to. Whether it’s a shootout, as with the Cardinals, or just managing the game without mistakes, as against the Rams, he’s capable of doing what he needs to.
More interestingly, Salvon Ahmed seems determined to make the most of his starting opportunity, creating a potentially harder decision when Myles Gaskin comes back off injury. His performance will be the storyline to watch on Sunday, as it will determine how easily Gaskin slides back into the starting role in a few weeks.
The Denver defense will be a challenge, even with key personnel out. While Bradley Chubb has been somewhat inconsistent against the run, he remains a dangerous pass rusher. The rest of the defense is solid as well, currently ranked 3rd according to PFF.
Very special teams
Over the last few weeks, the Special Teams unit has played on par with the best in the league. Jakeem Grant is a lethal returner, with a Punt Return TD in week eight against the Rams. Jason Sanders has missed one kick so far this year. One. Meanwhile, Matt Haack has the easiest job in football right now, having only had to punt five times in the last two games. With the blocked punt last week against the Chargers, this unit is one of the best in football.
The week ahead
Overall, as the cliche says: Complimentary football wins football games. That’s precisely what the Dolphins are doing. They’re delivering in all three phases of the game, playing for one another, and delivering big plays at key moments week in and week out.
Denver is a good team, and a hungry one, but the Dolphins should be able to go into Mile High Stadium and take care of business.
Dolphins Week 11 Prediction: Mia: 28 – Den: 17