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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Miami at Chicago: Five Things to Know For Sunday's Game

The Miami Dolphins stood toe to toes with the Green Bay Packers for almost an entire game before losing a heartbreaker in the final minutes, the mastery of Aaron Rodgers proved to be the difference in a loss in south Florida. Along the way for over 50 minutes in the contest, the Miami faithful and the media covering the game same the maturation of Ryan Tannehill was evident as he showed he could hang with arguably the best quarterback in the NFC, if not the NFL.

This week is a little different as the Dolphins prepare to face the Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler, who could have a Pro Bowl-type season if he continues to show maturity and can use his cannon arm effectively. He has tools at his disposal that make the Bears offense one of the most feared in the conference.

While I thought the game last week for the Dolphins would be a pass-happy affair and one that the Packers had in the bag, I was wrong. The Dolphins match up well with the Bears and hold an edge defensively.

Here are five things you need to know about this game on Sunday.


The Bears present a big challenge on offense in large part because they have oversized playmakers. Nowhere is that more applicable than at wide receiver, where Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery form one of the best tandems in the NFL. While Marshall could be considered more of a possession receiver, Jeffery also has the speed to get downfield. The Bears also have a quarterback with one of the strongest arms in the NFL.


Chicago is averaging exactly 2.5 sacks per game, thanks in large part to defensive end Willie Young’s team-leading seven on the season. Young, it should be pointed out, doesn't even start for the Bears; Chicago’s starting defensive ends are longtime Minnesota Vikings standout Jared Allen and former Oakland Raiders starter Lamarr Houston. The Bears also are averaging two takeaways per game, with eight interceptions and four fumble recoveries on the season. Rookie first-round pick Kyle Fuller leads the way with three interceptions.


How do the Dolphins defensive backs do their jobs on Sunday? There is such a height differential with the Bears receivers, it could be a long day in the red zone.

“Unless we sign a couple of guys from the Heat, we probably are going to have a size discrepancy there,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said during his weekly press conference Monday. “But, hey, our guys battle against big guys all the time. It’s not the first time that Brent Grimes or Cortland Finnegan or any of our guys will have played against tall receivers. We’ll have to do our best to defend them, but that’s part of the deal.”


The Dolphins did not rule out any players on their final injury report of the week, but safety Jimmy Wilson was listed as doubtful after missing practice for a third consecutive day.

The only other Dolphins player listed worse than probable is center Samson Satele, who was limited in practice Friday because of a hamstring injury.

The Dolphins have 12 players listed as probable: T Branden Albert (elbow), TE Charles Clay (knee), LS John Denney (knee), CB Cortland Finnegan (neck), WR Brandon Gibson (hamstring), WR Brian Hartline (finger), RB Lamar Miller (knee), LB Koa Misi (ankle), G Shelley Smith (knee), QB Ryan Tannehill (ankle), G Dallas Thomas (shoulder) and LB Philip Wheeler (shoulder/thumb).

Gibson and Misi both were full participants in practice Friday after being limited the previous two days. Denney was limited Friday after being a full participant Thursday, and Hartline showed up on the injury report for the first time Friday, although he was a full participant.


The Bears have a good, solid offense, but the Dolphins defense is better. The work by Tannehill last week may be a sign this is a team ready to take another step forward. The Dolphins really need this win.


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