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Miami Dolphins vs Indianapolis Colts Preview and Prediction

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (5-3) are back at home this week against the Miami Dolphins (1-7), trying to bounce back after coming home from last Sunday’s road trip with their first loss in a month.

Some costly injuries and self-inflicted wounds led to the Colts’ Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the Dolphins got off the schneid with their first victory of the season, a 26-18 home victory over AFC East Division rival New York Jets.

After last week’s bump in the road, the Colts will be hungry, angry and looking to get back into the ‘Win’ column in front of their home crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday — in a game in which legendary defensive end Dwight Freeney will be inducted into the Ring of Honor.

Let’s take a look at this week’s opponent.


Dolphins’ Passing Game

Since switching back to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, Miami’s passing game has taken off a little more including last Sunday against the Jets. Fitzpatrick went 24-of-36 passing (66.7 percent) for 288 yards (8.0 YPA), three touchdowns, no interceptions, but he was sacked four times for a passer rating of 118.7.

Tight end Mike Gesicki led the team in receiving, catching all six targets for 95 yards (15.8 avg.). Rookie receiver Preston Williams led the receiving corps with five receptions for 72 yards (14.4 avg.) and two touchdowns. Receiver DeVante Parker did his own damage, catching 4-of-6 targets for 57 yards (14.3 avg.) and a touchdown.

Dolphins’ Run Game

Miami’s run game continued to be shaky, even in a win. Starter Mark Walton carried the ball 12 times for 29 yards (2.4 avg.), and Kalen Ballage ran seven times for 19 yards (2.7 avg.). As a team, Miami ran the ball 24 times for 50 yards (2.1 avg.).


This game could very well be shaped by the absences of several players who participated for the respective teams just last week. Colts’ starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett was knocked out of last week’s game with a sprained left MCL in his knee and was replaced by Brian Hoyer. Brissett’s status for this week is up in the air. Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton is expected to remain out this week while nursing a calf injury while Parris Campbell suffered a hand injury and will miss some time. For the Dolphins, Williams, their leading receiver, suffered a knee injury against the Jets and is expected to miss the rest of the season, while Walton has been suspended for the next four games for violating the NFL’s conduct and substance abuse policy.

Dolphins’ Passing Game

Without Williams, Fitzpatrick will primarily have Parker, Gesicki and Grant to throw to. That factors in the departure of running back Kenyan Drake, who is second on the team in carries and fourth in pass targets although he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Overall, the Dolphins struggle to protect the quarterback and now are at risk of having their receivers take slightly longer to get open with the loss of Williams.

The Colts’ defense, meanwhile, has been hot lately. In the last four games, they are allowing just 18.8 points per game, 232 passing yards and have 11 sacks. One thing that will bear monitoring is the status of starting cornerback Pierre Desir, who missed last week with a hamstring injury. In his absence, though, rookie Marvell Tell III did so well that he made Pro Football Focus’ “NFL Week 9 Team of the Week.”

  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick — 61.1 percent completions, 1,195 yards, 6.8 YPA, 8 TD, 7 INT, 14 sacks
  • WR Preston Williams — 32 catches (60 targets), 428 yards (13.4 avg.), 3 TD
  • WR DeVante Parker — 28 catches (52 targets), 400 yards (14.3 avg.), 4 TD
  • TE Mike Gesicki — 21 catches (31 targets), 248 yards (11.8 avg.)
  • WR Jakeem Grant — 14 catches (27 targets), 117 yards (8.4 avg.)

Dolphins’ Run Game

The Dolphins’ run game, while it cannot be overlooked, has proven to this point to be containable. Without Walton and Drake, all other Dolphins ball carriers have totaled 63 carries for 135 yards (2.1 avg.) and three touchdowns. Sixty-four of those yards and one of those touchdowns are from pocket-passing quarterbacks.

The Colts have been great against the run lately as opponents average 22.8 carries for 84.8 yards (3.7 avg.) and two total touchdowns over their last four games.

  • RB Mark Walton — 53 carries, 201 yards (3.8 avg.)
  • RB Kalen Ballage — 35 carries, 70 yards (2.0 avg.), 2 TD
  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick — 20 carries, 51 yards (2.5 avg.), 1 TD
  • QB Josh Rosen — 3 carries, 13 yards (4.3 avg.)

Colts’ Passing Game

Will it be Brissett or Hoyer this week? Regardless, the Colts’ passing game should have some success. While it may not be voluminous (we’ll get to that in a moment), it should be efficient. The Dolphins’ defense ranks near the bottom of the league in several passing categories, including 20th overall (251.6 YPG), tied-23rd in completion percentage (67.1), 26th in pass plays of 20-plus yards (34), tied-27th in interceptions (3), tied-28th in passing touchdowns (19), 29th in yards per pass attempt, 29th in passer rating and 30th in sacks. With all that in consideration, Miami lost its best defender, cornerback Xavien Howard, for the season to a knee injury two weeks ago. Howard had a pair of interceptions against the Colts in a Week 12 matchup last season.

Without Hilton and Campbell, either Brissett or Hoyer will likely lean heavily on receiver Zach Pascal, tight ends Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron and running back Nyheim Hines in the passing game. Receivers Chester Rogers and Deon Cain will likely be expected to step up as well.

  • QB Jacoby Brissett — 64.8 percent completions, 1,649 yards, 7.0 YPA, 14 TD, 3 INT, 12 sacks
  • WR T.Y. Hilton — 32 catches (46 targets), 360 yards (11.3 avg.), 5 TD
  • TE Jack Doyle — 24 catches (34 targets), 232 yards (9.7 avg.), 3 TD
  • TE Eric Ebron — 18 catches (31 targets), 248 yards (13.8 avg.), 3 TD
  • RB Nyheim Hines — 23 catches (29 targets), 188 yards (8.2 avg.)

Colts’ Run Game

Whether it’s a quarterback with a banged-up knee or his backup under center against the Dolphins, the plan might be to fire up the run game. Miami’s opponent has run for at least 100 yards in all but two games, which includes two games of more than 235 yards. The Colts, on the other hand, have five games with at least 100 rushing yards including three of those being at least 150 yards.

The Colts’ running backs, led by Marlon Mack who is on pace for over 1,300 rushing yards, are a deep, effective group. While Mack ranks ninth in the league in rushing, Jordan Wilkins’s yards per carry ranks third in the NFL among players with at least 20 carries, and Hines ranks 13th in the NFL in PFF receiving grade among running backs.

Despite the injuries, the Colts should still have an edge on offense vs. defense, as they rank third in red-zone offense (67.9 percent) while the Dolphins are 28th in that area defensively.

  • RB Marlon Mack — 159 carries, 679 yards (4.3 avg.), 3 TD
  • QB Jacoby Brissett — 37 carries, 110 yards (3.0 avg.), 1 TD
  • RB Jordan Wilkins — 24 carries, 145 yards (6.0 avg.)
  • RB Nyheim Hines — 19 carries, 52 yards (2.7 avg.)

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Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are a professional American football team based in the Miami metropolitan area. The Dolphins compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The Dolphins home games are at Hard Rock Stadium in the northern suburb of Miami Gardens, Florida, and are headquartered in Davie, Florida. The Dolphins are the oldest professional sports team in Florida. Of the four AFC East teams, they are the only team in the division that was not a charter member of the American Football League (AFL).

The Dolphins were founded by attorney-politician Joe Robbie and actor-comedian Danny Thomas. They began play in the AFL in 1966. The region had not had a professional football team since the days of the Miami Seahawks, who played in the All-America Football Conference in 1946, before becoming the first incarnation of the Baltimore Colts. For the first few years, the Dolphins’ full-time training camp and practice facilities were at Saint Andrew’s School, a private boys boarding prep school in Boca Raton. In the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, the Dolphins joined the NFL.

The team made its first Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl VI, losing to the Dallas Cowboys, 24–3. The following year, the Dolphins completed the NFL’s only perfect season, culminating in a Super Bowl win, winning all 14 of their regular season games, and all three of their playoff games, including Super Bowl VII. They were the third NFL team to accomplish a perfect regular season. The next year, the Dolphins won Super Bowl VIII, becoming the first team to appear in three consecutive Super Bowls, and the second team (the first AFL/AFC team) to win back-to-back championships. Miami also appeared in Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX, losing both games.

For most of their early history, the Dolphins were coached by Don Shula, the most successful head coach in professional football history in terms of total games won. Under Shula, the Dolphins posted losing records in only two of his 26 seasons as the head coach. During the period spanning 1983 to the end of 1999, quarterback Dan Marino became one of the most prolific passers in NFL history, breaking numerous league passing records. Marino led the Dolphins to five division titles, 10 playoff appearances and Super Bowl XIX before retiring following the 1999 season.

In 2008, the Dolphins became the first team in NFL history to win their division and make a playoff appearance following a league-worst 1–15 season. That same season, the Dolphins upset the 16–0 New England Patriots on the road during Week 3, handing the Patriots’ their first regular season loss since December 10, 2006, in which coincidentally, they were also beaten by the Dolphins.